Korean Food for Beginners – Old School Tin Lunchbox


Are you an absolute newbie to Korean food? Here’s a recipe that you can make with almost no cooking skills.

It’s the old school tin lunchbox (엣날 도시락). Schoolkids would bring these to the classroom and stack them on top of each other on the heater to keep them warm.  

This recipe approximates the flavors you’d find in this soul-filling meal. And it gives a simple representation of what Korean food is about – the constant interplay between spicy and vinegary (kimchi), rich and meaty (spam) and bland but filling base (rice). You can choose which ratio of these flavors to combine in your mouth with each bite. But the key is combining. You don’t chew and swallow each component separately. That’s just wrong.

The egg, roasted seaweed and other sides your mom might have stuffed in are optional.

Old School Korean Lunch Box Recipe

1. Rice

Make some Korean rice or any short grain sticky rice. If you don’t know how to make rice and want to avoid Uncle Roger from attacking your rice-making skills, get some Haet-ban (햇반). It’s a miraculous product. Two minutes in the microwave and you have fresh cooked rice.

2. Kimchi

Get a non-stick pan and fry some kimchi in butter or oil. Or you can skip the frying and eat the kimchi as it is. It’s yummier when grilled though.

3. Spam

Grill several pieces of spam in the frying pan.

How to Eat

Put the rice, kimchi and spam on a plate. Put some rice in your mouth, then some kimchi and then some spam. Start chewing and let us know what you experience! 

Advanced Users

Fry an egg and top the rice. Sprinkle on sesame seeds. Add shredded roasted seaweed or use the mini sheets as wrappers to create ‘mini tacos’. If you can find a vintage tin box (still sold today), you add all the ingredients and then when you’re ready to eat, you shake it all up. But be careful. Because the lids aren’t 100 sealed, you can have juices flying everywhere if you shake it around the world.


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