Simple Korean recipes


Cover image Simple Korean recipes
Image adapted from (clockwise from top-right): @bistromang, @__sunnyluv@ro.skffffff, and  Aaron and Claire

Even if you didn’t panic buy groceries after learning about the outbreak of COVID-19, chances are you have a small stash of processed food items, just to play it safe. After all, processed and canned foods have a long shelf life and are good to have on hand, pandemic or not.

But processed food can get boring after a while. It’s also not the healthiest. Whether you’re just bored of having tuna sandwiches, itching to bump up the nutritional value of processed foods, or just want to try something new for a change, these 9 simple Korean recipes, made from canned tuna, Spam, instant ramyeon, and frozen dumplings, will satiate your hunger and need for variety.  


1. Deep-fried Spam tofu sandwich


Spam tofu sandwichImage adapted from: Aaron and Claire

A thick cut of pan-fried Spam, sandwiched between two slices of soft white bread, is a classic combination that’ll never go wrong. But for a meal packed full of protein, try using tofu instead of bread. 

Not only does tofu provide you with essential nutrients, but it’s also a healthier choice compared to white bread. That said, the sandwich is deep-fried, so it’s wise to practice moderation and maybe go for a brisk walk after indulging in one of these addictive bad boys.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can of Spam 
  • Tofu 
  • Flour 
  • 2 eggs 
  • Bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper 
  • Cooking oil

Steps:

  1. Cut the tofu and Spam into squares about 1.5cm thick. 
  2. Remove extra moisture from the tofu with paper towels and then lightly seasoned it with some salt and pepper. 
  3. Place a slice of Spam between two slices of tofu. To make sure that the slices are well-adhered to each other, lightly coat the tofu slices with flour. 
  4. Place the beaten eggs, bread crumbs, and flour into 3 separate bowls. 
  5. Take one of the Spam tofu sandwiches you’ve assembled earlier and coat it lightly in the following order: flour, egg, and finally, breadcrumbs. 
  6. Heat up a good amount of cooking oil in a pan over high heat. Once the oil is hot enough, place the breaded sandwiches into the pan and deep fry them till golden brown on all sides. 
  7. Cut the sandwiches into half and serve. 

2. Spam pancake


Spam pancakeImage adapted from: @author.ms

Kimchi pancakes, also known as kimchi jeon, are one of the most popular street foods in Korea. 

However, getting hold of kimchi these days is tough as stocks fly off the shelves fast. Surprisingly, Spam makes for a great substitute because it’s as salty and flavourful as kimchi. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Spam 
  • ¼ onion
  • ¼ carrot 
  • Green onions
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic 
  • A dash of black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of Korean pancake mix (alternative: flour)
  • Cooking oil 

Steps: 

  1. Place the entire block of Spam into a ziplock bag and mash it up using a rolling pin. If you don’t have one but need to relieve all that pent-up stress from staying at home, punching the ziplock bag works well too. Stop when you achieve a minced meat texture. 
  2. Finely chop the onion, carrot, and green onion.
  3. Empty the minced Spam, finely chopped vegetables, and the rest of the ingredients (excluding the cooking oil) into a bowl, and mix well till the batter is combined. 
  4. Heat up the cooking oil in a pan over medium-high heat and scoop a desired amount of pancake batter into it. The size of the pancake is up to your liking. 
  5. Remove from heat once both sides are pan-fried till golden brown. 

3. Stir-fried vegetables with Spam


Spam vegetablesImage credit: @epeul_daily

On days when you run out of meat for your veggie stir-fry but don’t want to go out and get fresh groceries, a can of Spam will come in handy as a substitute.

While this recipe suggests using broccoli or bean sprouts as it adds a crunchier bite to the dish, you can experiment with the flavours and replace it with any vegetable you have stored in your fridge. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can of Spam
  • Green onion
  • ½ tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 bell pepper (yellow, red, green, or mixed)
  • 200g of bean sprouts or broccoli 
  • ½ tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of oyster sauce 
  • 2 tbsp of water 
  • ½ tbsp of sesame oil
  • Cooking oil 

Steps:

  1. Cut the green onions, bell peppers, and Spam into thin strips. 
  2. To make the sauce needed for this dish, add ½ tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, and 2 tbsp of water into a bowl and mix well. 
  3. Heat some cooking oil over medium heat, then add in the minced garlic and chopped green onions. Stir-fry until the green onions start to turn brown.
  4. Add in bell peppers and Spam into the pan and turn up the heat to medium-high. 
  5. Then, add in the sauce mixture you’ve made earlier. Give the ingredients a good mix and stir-fry until the peppers have become softer. 
  6. Add in the bean sprouts or broccoli and fry over high heat for 30 seconds. 
  7. Finally, add ½ tbsp of sesame oil and give it a good mix. 

4. Tuna pancake


Tuna pancakeImage credit: @maisondemori_

When cooked to perfection, tuna pancakes will replace classic tuna mayo sandwiches as your favourite go-to midday snack.  

All you have to do is combine both dry and wet ingredients in a bowl, season with salt and pepper to your liking, and fry the batter in a heated pan. 

Tuna pancakeImage credit: @maisondemori_

Ingredients:

  • ¼ onion
  • ¼ carrot 
  • Green onions
  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic 
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • 3 tbsp of Korean pancake mix (alternative: flour)
  • Cooking oil 

Tuna pancakeImage credit: @maisondemori_

Steps:

  1. Drain the water or oil from the canned tuna and mash it up in a bowl. 
  2. Finely chop the onion, carrot, and green onions, and add it into the bowl. 
  3. To this, add in the minced garlic, eggs, Korean pancake mix, and a dash of salt and pepper for seasoning. Mix well till all ingredients are combined. 
  4. Heat up a lightly oiled pan over medium-high heat and scoop a desired amount of mixture into it. The size of the pancake is up to your liking. 
  5. Remove from heat once both sides are pan-fried till golden brown. 

5. Tuna rice balls


Tuna rice ballImage credit: @the_juniel 

Carb-lovers can try something different by turning your favourite fluffy white rice into these rice balls stuffed with an addictive tuna mayo filling. 

The secret to this recipe lies in the addition of a small green chilli pepper. Don’t worry about it being too spicy as you can adjust the amount to your liking. One thing is for sure – you’ve got to add at least a tiny bit for that kick. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of tuna
  • ¼ onion
  • 1 green chilli pepper 
  • 4 tbsp of mayonnaise 
  • 1 tsp of soy sauce 
  • Cooked rice 
  • Seaweed flakes 

Tuna rice ballImage adapted from: @suzysharesfood

Steps:

  1. Drain the oil or water from the canned tuna and empty the remaining contents into a bowl. 
  2. Chop up the onion and green chilli pepper and add them to the bowl. 
  3. Add 4 tbsp of mayonnaise and 1 tsp of soy sauce into the mix and combine all ingredients. 
  4. Take a desired amount of cooked rice and flatten it before placing a scoop of tuna mayonnaise mixture in the centre. Shape it into a rice ball. 
  5. Cover the rice balls with seaweed flakes and it’s good to go. 

Tip: Tuna mayonnaise also pairs well with bread or plain crackers. You can make extra and store it in your fridge for a convenient breakfast or afternoon snack.  


6. Tuna porridge


Tuna porridgeImage adapted from: @ro.skffffff

A piping hot bowl of instant ramyeon is probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re craving for something warm to comfort your soul on a rainy day or when you feel like you’re coming down with the flu. But instant noodles aren’t exactly the healthiest. Instead, you should grab a can of tuna and whip up a bowl of tuna porridge under 10 minutes. 

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini
  • Carrot 
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 can of tuna 
  • 300-400g of cooked rice 
  • 500ml of water 
  • 1 tsp of concentrated chicken stock
  • ½ tbsp of sesame oil (Optional)
  • Sesame seeds (Optional)
  • Raw egg yolk (Optional)

Steps:

  1. Drain the oil or water from the canned tuna and set it aside. 
  2. Dice the zucchini, carrot, and mushrooms into smaller cubes. 
  3. Place a pot filled with water over medium-high heat and add in the tuna, diced vegetables, and cooked rice. 
  4. To season the porridge, add in 1 tsp of chicken stock. 
  5. While the porridge is boiling, make sure to stir regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. 
  6. Turn off the heat once the porridge achieves a thick consistency. 
  7. Add ½ tbsp of sesame oil and a dash of sesame seeds for an added aroma and flavour. (Optional)
  8. Top off with a raw egg yolk to give the porridge an added creaminess. (Optional) 

7. Kujirai-style ramyeon


Kujirai-style ramyeonImage credit: @minyo_jade_

The Kujirai-style ramyeon recipe is taken from a 2019 comic book titled Let’s Make Ramen. The recipe has quickly become a popular way to cook instant ramyeon at home. 

Shin ramyeon
Image credit: @shine_village 

Besides a packet of Shin or Jin ramyeon, an egg, and a few slices of cheese, all you need is a pan. 

Ingredients:

  • Jin or Shin ramyeon 
  • Egg 
  • 2 slices of cheddar cheese 
  • Green onions
  • 350ml of water 

Steps:

  1. Cut the green onions into thin slices.
  2. Add 350ml of water into the pan placed over high heat. Put the ramyeon noodles, vegetable flakes, and powder in when the water comes to a boil. Note: Use only half of the powder sachet. 
  3. Once the noodles start to soften, turn down the heat to medium, and crack an egg into the centre. 
  4. Cut the cheese slices into half and place them on top of the noodles. Add in the green onions as well. 
  5. After which, cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer till the egg is cooked.   

Kujirai-style ramyeonImage credit: @bistromang

This ramyeon recipe is great both for yourself or as a sharing dish with your family. Since it’s a dry version, you don’t have to worry that the noodles will get too soggy when set outside for too long. So take your time and have a good family bonding session over dinner.     

Don’t forget to pair it with some banchan (side dishes) like kimchi or seasoned radish to refresh your palate. 


8. Dumpling lasagna


Dumpling lasagnaImage credit: @ameliliano

This is a fresh take on your classic lasagna. The pasta sheets and meat bolognese sauce are conveniently replaced with frozen dumplings and canned tomato sauce. All you have to do is layer the dumplings, tomato sauce, and a generous amount of mozzarella cheese on top of each other until you reach the brim of the baking dish, before popping it into the microwave. 

If you want to try something out of the ordinary, substitute meat-filled dumplings with kimchi dumplings instead. It’s an East-West fusion dish that’s sure to get you hooked. 

Ingredients:

  • Frozen Korean dumplings
  • 1 can of tomato sauce 
  • Mozzarella cheese 
  • Olive oil 

Steps:

  1. Fully thaw the frozen dumplings beforehand.
  2. Coat a microwavable baking dish with a thin layer of olive oil. 
  3. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce at the bottom before putting a layer of dumplings followed by a layer of mozzarella cheese.
  4. Repeat step 2 until you reach the brim of your baking dish. Make sure that the final layer is the mozzarella cheese.
  5. Microwave the dish for 5 minutes at medium-high heat. 

9. Dumpling tangsuyuk


Dumpling tangsuyukImage credit: @__sunnyluv

Tangsuyuk is a sweet and sour deep-fried pork dish. But due to the pandemic, it’s not always possible to get fresh pork for this dish. Instead, you can replace pork with frozen dumplings.

Ingredients:

  • 15 pieces of frozen dumplings
  • Cooking oil
  • ½ carrot 
  • ½ onion

Ingredients (for sauce):

  • 6 tbsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of vinegar
  • ½ tbsp of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of tomato ketchup
  • 150ml of water 

Ingredients (for sauce thickener):

  • 1 tbsp of potato starch 
  • Water 

Steps:

  1. Make sure the dumplings are completely thawed before you begin deep-frying it till golden brown. Remove from the oil and set it aside to cool.
  2. Cut the carrot and onion into smaller sizes. 
  3. Mix 1 tbsp of potato starch with water and set aside. 
  4. Over medium-high heat, add all the ingredients required for the sauce into another pan and mix well.
  5. When the sauce comes to a boil, add in the carrots and onions. 
  6. Once the vegetables are cooked through, pour in the potato starch mixture and stir well. You’ll notice the sauce thickening. 
  7. Add fried dumplings to the pan, give it a good stir, and make sure that every piece is well-coated with the sauce. 

Simple to make Korean dishes


Cooking is really not as hard as you think it is. When you have access to these processed food items, whipping up mouth-watering dishes is as easy as ABC. Now that we’ve let you in on these 9 simple recipes, practice these dishes because if you’re going to eat processed foods anyway, you’ve got to make your calories count. 

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