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5 Korean dishes that are adapted from Chinese cuisine

It’s not a secret that Chinese food has a lot of fusion with different cultures like the Filipino-Chinese and American-Chinese cuisines that we’re all familiar with. With the historical, cultural, and close geographical ties between China and South Korea, many original Chinese dishes have been adopted by the  Koreans.

Korean-Chinese dishes are highly influenced by Northern, Eastern, and Northeast Chinese cuisines from the provinces of Beijing and Shandong. This was made possible by the early Chinese immigrants in South Korea who were originally from Shandong. The original names of the Chinese dishes may be romanticized to Hangul, but Korean-Chinese food is localized and made distinct by the flavors and tastes of Koreans. 

With the popularity of Korean food in the Philippines, here are 5 popular dishes that you probably didn’t know are Korean-Chinese: 


1. Kimchi

Known as the national dish of Korea, kimchi is closely related to pào cài (泡菜) from its lacto-fermented technique for vegetables which are usually cabbages, pickles, and cucumbers. Both kimchi and pào cài taste slightly sour because of the vegetables are fermented by lactic acid bacteria. Sichuan dishes use this fermentation technique in pickled and seasoned vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and white radishes that are put into pickling jars. It’s known that the early Chinese were making pào cài since the Northern Wei Dynasty at least 1,400 years ago.

Pào cài is much simpler than kimchi because the vegetables are soaked in salt and pepper without too many condiments. Compared to kimchi, the usual pào cài has a clear color of the vegetables. On the other hand, there are different variations of kimchi but Korean red chili pepper flakes, salted seafood (shrimps and anchovies with fish sauce), and sweet pears make kimchi distinct. 



Photo courtesy of Korean Bapsang and Taylor Holliday

2. Jjangmyeon

Jjangmyeon came from a Shandong dish zhá jiàng miàn (炸酱面). Zhá jiàng miàn is translated to friend sauce noodles or soybean paste noodles. Zhá jiàng miàn has adapted into jjajangmyeon by Shandong workers that were assigned by the Chinese military to Korea. Jjangmyeon and zhá jiàng miàn are relatively the same because zhá jiàng sauce (fried sauce) are mixed with thick wheat noodles. Ground pork or beef with a dark fermented soybean paste are mixed with sliced fresh vegetables like cucumber, onion, and pickled radish. 

Photo courtesy of Michelle Wong and Chinese Grandma

3. Tangsuyuk

Tangsuyuk is originally a Shandong dish táng cù ròu (糖醋肉). Both tangsuyuk and táng cù ròu have the same sweet and sour sauce with fruits and vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, apples, and pineapples. What makes tangsuyuk unique from the original Chinese delicacy is the crispy fried meat (pork or beef) that is coated with corn or potato starch. 

Photo courtesy of Korean Bapsang and Rasa Malaysia

4. Mapa dubu

Mapa dubu is derived from the popular Sichuan spicy dish mápó dòufu (麻婆豆腐). It’s already known that Koreans love spicy food, which Sichuan cuisine is well-known for. Mápó dòufu has existed as early as 1254 in Chengdu, Sichuan. Both mapa dubu and mápó dòufu consist of fried or steamed tofu served with minced pork or beef with a spicy sauce, and flavorful vegetables like red peppers and green onions. Mapa dubu and mápó dòufu are best partnered with white rice to balance the spicy meat and bold flavors of the sauce. 

Photo courtesy of Maangchi and  J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

5. Mandu

It’s obvious that the Korean dumplings called mandu are originally derived from the Chinese dumplings jiǎo zi (餃子). However, the term mandu is actually derived from the Chinese meal mántou (饅頭). Mántou is actually a cognate term that means dumplings filled with meat, but now it’s just commonly referred to as steamed buns. Both mandu and jiǎo zi are essentially the same as the minced meat is wrapped in a flour-typed dumpling wrapped. They can be served fried or steamed and dipped into soy sauce and chili. What makes mandu different from jiǎo zi is the different Korean wrapping variations mixed with the minced meat like tofu, vermicelli sotanghon noodles, or corn cheese inside the Korean-styled dumplings.

Photo courtesy of The Korea Herald and  Taste Atlas

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