|Korea’s Summer Foods Stave Off The Heat! - Summer Treats to Beat the Heat|
Summer in Korea is in full force, bringing with it muggy weather and bouts of heavy rain that last until the middle of July. 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!
Soup for the soul: Samgyetang (chicken ginseng 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.
Sweet, spicy, chewy 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.
Jangeo-gui (broiled eel), a summertime pick-me-up!
Don’t feel like eating anything or maybe feel a little down? Then how about grabbing a few friends and going out for Jangeogui (broiled eel)? Eel contains vitamins A and E and is very good for blood circulation (not to mention great for increasing stamina…wink, wink).
Cool off with chilled noodles, Naengmyeon and Kongguksu
The most beloved and popular types of summer foods for Koreans are cold noodle dishes such as Naengmyeon (chilled noodles), Naeng Kongguksu (noodles in chilled white bean soup), Kimchimari guksu (Kimchi noodles), Chogye Guksu, and Memil Guksu.
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. These 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 with chilled broth, while Hamheung Naengmyeon comes topped with spicy red chili sauce. Naengmyeong dishes are usually garnished with sliced beef, boiled egg, cucumber, and pear.
Naengkongguksu (냉콩국수, noodles in chilled soy milk broth), is 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 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. Full of protein, this savory dish is particularly invigorating on hot, humid days.
No matter the season, one can’t talk about Korean food without at least mentioning Kimchi! In the 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 delicacy sure to help you keep your cool.
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.
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 the 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 flavored with ground radish, scallion, and horseradish.
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. Other ingredients are also added to create different types of Bingsu such as Sweet Red Bean Bingsu, Fruit Bingsu, Green tea Bingsu, and Coffee Bingsu. 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.