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Korean Delicacies — Summer Treats to Beat the Heat!

Korean Delicacies Summer Treats to Beat the Heat!

Summer in Korea is in full force, bringing with it muggy weather and bouts of heavy rain. As temperatures rise, people try to escape the heat by heading to the beach, the swimming pool, or air-conditioned cafes and malls. In Korea, however, staying healthy and cool during the summer is all about what you eat. Many Koreans try to beat the heat and counteract summer fatigue by eating cold dishes and healthy foods that are known for their restorative powers. Keep reading to find out exactly which foods to eat to restore your strength and refresh your spirit Korean style!

1. Hot summer health foods for your strength

Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)

The hottest days in Korea are from early July to mid August. This period is called ‘sambok deowi,’ or ‘the heat of sambok.’ ‘Sambok’ refers to the hottest days in Korea according to the lunar calendar and is further broken down into: Chobok (초복), the beginning period, Jungbok (중복), the middle, and Malbok (말복), the tail end of the summertime heat.

Since samgyetang is packed with nutritious ingredients, it is widely known for its restorative properties. The dish is prepared by taking a young chicken and stuffing it with garlic, rice, jujube, ginger, licorice root, and other herbs. The ingredients are then boiled together and served up in a delicious broth. Some restaurants even offer variations of the traditional Samgyetang, allowing you to add different ingredients according to your personal tastes. For a delicious and nutritious combination, try the abalone samgyetang, typically priced somewhere between 10,000 and 13,000 won.

Fusion-style samgyetang has been gaining in popularity with more and more restaurants cashing in on the trend. At fusion-style samgyetang restaurants, you’ll be able to find new additions to this classic dish ranging from abalone and wild ginseng to perilla seed powder or even green tea. Fusion samgyetang is more expensive than regular samgyetang and can cost anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 won, depending on the ingredients. If you don’t mind paying a little more, fusion-style samgyetang is a great way to reenergize and experience a new take on a classic Korean dish.

There are two main schools of thought in Korea when it comes to summer foods. Many Koreans eat cool dishes (chilled noodles, etc.) to try and cool off, but there are also many people that eat hot foods full of nutrition to combat fatigue. This idea of ‘Yi Yeol Chi Yeol’ (fighting heat with heat) is derived from the principles of traditional Korean medicine. Originally, the term was used to refer to a medical treatment for curing colds in which a feverish patient’s body was kept as warm as possible in order to release the heat from the body. In the spirit of ‘Yi Yeol Chi Yeol,’ fight heat with heat and rejuvenate yourself this summer by indulging in a big bowl of samgyetang.

Recommended Restaurants
- Korea Samgyetang (고려 삼계탕)
- Tosokchon (토속촌)
- Hwanghu Myeongga (황후명가)
- Daedong Samkyetang (대동삼계탕)
Samgyetang Page:
Korea’s Revitalizing Summer Food
Boyangsik Column:
Boyangsik - Korea’s Medicinal Foods

Jjimdak

Not to be forgotten is the other favorite summertime chicken dish—jjimdak (찜닭). Jjimdak is a mixture of chicken, hot peppers, mushrooms, carrots, and other vegetables served in a savory, sweet-and-spicy, soy sauce-based broth. Jjimdak is characterized by its spiciness, so it is often paired with a side of dongchimi (radish water kimchi), which helps neutralize some of the spice.

Recommended Restaurants
- Bongchu Jjimdak (봉추 찜닭)
- Andong Jjimdak (안동 찜닭)

Jangeo-gui (broiled eel)

Don’t feel like eating anything or maybe feel a little down? Then how about grabbing a few friends and going out for jangeo-gui (broiled eel)? Eel contains vitamins A and E and is very good for blood circulation. It is loved by tourists from the U.S., Japan and Hong Kong as well as Koreans.

Jangeo-gui (장어구이) is seasoned either with salt or a variety of spices such as hot pepper paste, sugar, soybean sauce, minced garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. Eel restaurants typically have both variations on the menu. Though jangeo-gui can be found in many places in Korea, eels caught along Pungcheon (a stream situated at Namwon-si in Jeollabuk-do Province) are said to be especially delicious. There are also many famous jangeo-gui restaurants in Paju, Gyeonggi-do Province, which is only an hour or so outside of Seoul.

Recommended Restaurants
- Jangeo Myeongga (장어명가)
- Palpalminmuljangeo (팔팔민물장어)

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2. Cool off with chilled noodles

Naengmyeon

Naengmyeon (냉면), a buckwheat noodle dish, is perhaps one of the most beloved summer foods in Korea. Surprisingly, naengmyeon first appeared in North Korea as a specialty dish that was eaten only during the winter months. The North Korean style noodles, Pyeongyang naengmyeon and Hamheung naengmyeon, are now famous throughout the entire country and can be found in almost any neighborhood. The biggest difference between Pyeongyang naengmyeon (mul naengmyeon) and Hamheung naengmyeon (bibim naengmyeon) is the way in which they are served; Pyeongyang naengmyeon is served in a chilled broth, while Hamheung naengmyeon comes topped with spicy red chili sauce. Naengmyeong dishes are usually garnished with sliced beef, a boiled egg, cucumbers, and pears.

Recommended Restaurants
- Nampo Myeonok (남포면옥)
- Ojangdong Hamheung Naengmyeon (오장동 함흥냉면)
- Woolaeoak (우래옥)
- Ojangdong Heungnamgip (오장동 흥남집)
- Hanilgwan (한일관)
Naengmyeon Column:
Historic Naengmyeon Restaurants

Naeng-kongguksu

Naeng-kongguksu (냉콩국수), are noodles served in a chilled soy milk broth and are another good dish for those who may have lost their appetite due to the heat. The broth of this dish is made by soaking cooked soybeans in cold water and then grinding them up with a millstone. Noodles are placed in the broth and often topped with slices of cucumber, boiled egg, and tomato. For taste you can add some sugar or salt. Full of protein, this savory dish is particularly invigorating on hot, humid days.

Recommended Restaurants
- Jinju Hall (진주회관)
- Jeil Bean Restaurant (제일콩집)
- Myeongdong Kyoja (명동교자)

Kimchi Mari-guksu

No matter the season, one can’t talk about Korean food without at least mentioning kimchi. In summer, many people cool off with a big bowl of kimchi noodles, which are made from an icy mixture of kimchi broth and meat broth. Simply replace the noodles with rice and you get kimchi bap, another summer dish sure to help you keep your cool.

Recommended Restaurants
- Nunnamujip (눈나무집)
- Ibuk Sonmandu (리북손만두)
- Yogi (요기)

Chogyeguksu

In addition to samgyetang there is yet another chicken dish that takes center stage as the temperatures climb. This dish is none other than chogyeguksu (초계국수), noodles served in a chilled chicken broth flavored with vinegar and mustard and topped with shredded chicken.

Chogyeguksu (‘cho’ meaning ‘vinegar’ and ‘gye’ meaning ‘chicken’) was once a special winter treat enjoyed in the Hamgyeong-do and Pyeongan-do Provinces of North Korea. Nowadays, the dish is a popular summertime treat enjoyed by people all across the nation. Made of lean chicken, medicinal herbs, noodles, and fresh vegetables chogyeguksu boasts a simple, yet strong flavor and a distinctive smell.

Recommended Restaurants
- Chef’s Noodle (셰프의 국수전)
- Milbit Chogyeguksu (밀빛 초계국수)

Memilguksu

Another popular food in Korea is memilguksu (메밀국수, buckwheat noodles), which are served cold as ‘makguksu’ or hot as ‘jangguksu.’ In the summer, the most popular buckwheat noodle dish is memilmakguksu, in which noodles are placed in a kimchi broth with cucumbers, kimchi, vegetables, and meat and mixed with red chili paste. Another favorite dish is memilsoba, in which the noodles are served with a soy based-broth dipping sauce that is flavored with ground radish, scallion, and horseradish.

Many people may be familiar with ‘soba’ (the Japanese name for buckwheat noodles), but there is a slight difference in the way that memilguksu and soba are made and eaten. The broth for the Korean memilguksu is made mostly of myeolchi (dried anchovy), while the broth for Japanese Soba is made with katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). Another main difference is that Korean memilguksu is served in a broth, while the noodles and broth of the Japanese Soba are served separately.

Recommended Restaurants
- Mijin (미진)
- Ttatteuthan Jip Chuncheon Makguksu (따뜻한집 춘천막국수)
- Sigol Makguksu (시골막국수)
Guksu Column:
Noodles for Every Taste & Occasion, Korean-Style

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3. Bingsu, Korean summertime dessert of choice

While ice cream has long since been a favorite summertime treat in the West, it is only in the last century that ice cream has become widespread in Korea. Though ice cream is now readily available, bingsu (빙수) is still very popular in Korea in the summer and can be found in almost every café. Bingsu is a dessert made of ice chips, fruit, rice cake, sweetened milk, and syrup. Rather than just the original patbingsu (bingsu with red beans), a wide array of bingsu like sweet red bean bingsu, fruit bingsu, green tea bingsu, and coffee bingsu has become more popular these days. In recent years, ice cream has been added to the mix, but there are still plenty of places serving up the original version of this tasty treat.

One of the places known for preserving the original flavor of bingsu is café Meal Top. The café prides itself on its quality ingredients and makes its bingsu using fresh cooked red beans (instead of pre-packaged beans) and real fruit with no artificial ingredients. The O'Sulloc Tea House – Myeongdong Branch is another recommended bingsu café and is famous for its mouth-watering green tea bingsu and green tea yogurt bingsu.

If you’re not a fan of red beans, have no fear. There are plenty of bean-free bingsu variations. Gami, which opened in 1975, offers a delightfully sweet and sour strawberry bingsu and a watermelon bingsu sweetened with condensed milk.

The quiet teahouse Suyeonsanbang (the former residence of novelist Lee Tae-jun) offers blueberry makgeolli bingsu and sweet pumpkin bingsu. While the sweet pumpkin bingsu does contain red beans, it is also topped with generous chunks of sweet pumpkin, making for a mild taste that it particularly popular among the teahouse’s female clientele.

In summer, Korea becomes heaven for bingsu lovers as most cafes, bakeries and fast food restaurants sell a variety of bingsu!

Recommended Restaurants
- Meal Top (밀탑)
- O'Sulloc Tea House – Myeongdong Branch (오설록티하우스)
- Gami (가미(加味))
- Suyeonsanbang (수연산방)
Bingsu Column:
Bingsu, an unbeatable summer treat!

Last updated July 29, 2013

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Date 08/14/2013



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