Summer in Korea can be very hot and humid. There is nothing better to enjoy a refreshing and satisfying meal in the sweaty season. Here are some of the most popular summer Korean foods to cool you down and restore your energy.
Naengmyun means ‘cold noodles’. The dish is originally from North Korea, and has now become one of the most well-known foods in South Korea. There are two types of naengmyun, mul naengmyun (plain) and bibim naengmyun (with red chilli sauce). The cold noodles are usually cooked with cold broth, sliced beef and cucumber, Korean pear, and topped with a boiled egg. The long noodles symbolise longevity, so they will not be cut when served. But most Koreans would ask for scissors to cut them so it is easier to eat.
Makguksu is similar to Naengmyeon but is served with buckwheat noodles, which gives it a chewy texture. Customers can customize their own Makguksu, by serving it with sugar, mustard, sesame oil, vinegar, red chilli paste, kimchi etc.
Naengkongguksu is noodles served with iced soy bean broth that is thick and creamy. Soybeans are soaked in water overnight and blended to make the base of the broth, water and salt are then added to it. Some Koreans prefer to add a pinch of sugar when they eat the noodles. The savoury dish is full of protein and is a great vegetarian option.
Dotorimuk, known as acorn jelly salad, is a popular side banchan (side dish) in Korea. It is made from acorn starch and mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli powder and sesame seeds. Acorn jelly is considered as weight loss food, a low calorie source of protein, carbohydrates, and essential minerals.
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Cucumber is a common ingredient in side dishes. The tangy chilled cucumber soup made with onions is a famous starter for summer. The sliced cucumbers with sweet, sour and spicy dressing are also great to cut the oiliness from the meal.
Yukhwe is the Korean style of beef tartare. Raw beef may seem intimidating to some people, but restaurants that serve the dish usually have well-known and high-quality beef distributors. It is made from fresh and local beef, and the meat is tender and smooth. The fat from the beef is trimmed and often served with raw egg yolk and Korean pear. This raw Korean cuisine is not really popular among young people, but it is worth trying whilst in Korea.
Mulhwe is a spicy cold sashimi soup. Hwe is often being misunderstood as the Korean style of sashimi, but they are in fact differentiated in several ways; the fish and dipping sauce. Hwe is normally dipped in Chojang, red chilli pepper paste mixed with vinegar rather than soy sauce and wasabi. Mulhwe can be topped with various kinds of seafood such as raw fish, squid and octopus and is served with ice cubes.
Not a fan of frosty iced broth when eating Hwe? Then Hwedeopbap can be an alternative. The dish is raw fish on rice, similar to Bibimbap. Rice, vegetables and raw seafood are mixed with Chojang. Although it is a rice dish, the rice is not hot when served. It is a great choice to cool the heat from the hot weather.
Samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) is a hot soup full of nutritious ingredients. In classic Samgyetang, the chicken is stuffed with rice, jujube, ginger and other herbs, then is boiled with other ingredients to make the soup. Fusioned Samgyetang has also been more popular these days, by adding new ingredients such as abalone, perilla seed powder or green tea, it is a twist on the traditional dish.
Eating the hot and bubbling Samgyetang in the hot summer may seem strange. However, eating hot food that is full of nutrition is a way to combat fatigue. It is believed in Korea that sweating and eating too much cold food is bad for one’s body and organs, so with the idea of ‘Yi Yeol Chi Yeol’ (fighting heatness with heat), people are able to restore their energy.
Dalkkalguksu is a hot chicken and noodles soup. Similar to the concept of eating Samgyetang, this dish replenishes lost energy. Kalguksu is noodles being cut by a knife, and the dish is usually served with zucchinis and a vinegary sauce.
Jangeogui refers to grilled eel. Grilled eel are served in two ways, salted or marinated. Although the look of an eel may not seem appetizing, eel is rich of Vitamins A and E, which helps blood circulation and the restoration of lost appetite.
Jjimdak is chicken cooked with glass noodles and vegetables such as peppers, carrots, and mushrooms in savoury, sweet and spicy soy sauce. Jjimdak is famous for its spiciness, so the dish is often served with white kimchi and rice to reduce some of the spice.
Chi-mek is the short term for fried chicken and beer in Korea. This combination is only for adults because the legal drinking age is 19. Fried chicken is popular in Korea whole year round. By serving it with beer, they become a great choice of food in the hot summer.
Bingsu is shaved ice served with different sweet toppings. Traditional Patbingsu is topped with sweetened red beans and ground nut powder. There are various styles and flavours of bingsu, such as berry, coffee, cookie and green tea. Recently, melon bingsu has become very famous. The flash of the melon is scooped into small spheres, and is placed on ice cream or shaved ice. It is then served using the skin of melon. Due to the popularity of the dessert, it can easily be found being served in most cafes and fast food restaurants in Korea.
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Korea is one of the countries with the most variety of unique ice creams. They are sold in convenience stores and supermarkets at a very low price. They come in different shapes, sizes and flavours, so there is always something that suits one’s flavour. It is a life saviour in the hot summer.