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Korean summers are unlike any other — they are relatively hot and humid, and they bring monsoon-level rain for nearly the entirety of July.
Between June and September, Korean summers can see temperatures above 38˚C, but the thermometer tends to stay right around 20˚C. Unlike many other cultures, Koreans tend to eat some of their hottest food during the summer months. This has to do with their belief that ki, a kind of energy force, needs to be restored during the heat and hot food usually restores this ki. The Korean saying is “yi yul chi yul” and we will explain what it means a little later in this blog.
So, what does one eat in Korea in the summer? Are staple dishes light and fresh, or are they filling and robust?
Let’s talk about some of the most popular Korean dishes to eat in the summertime.
This dish is one of the most popular dishes to consume during the summer in Korea. It is a simple chicken soup that is made with a small-sized, whole chicken along with other ingredients like ginseng, rice, garlic, jujubes, and scallions. Sticky rice is stuffed into the chicken, while it is boiled with the other ingredients, making it deliciously soft and tender.
Koreans believe that this dish, because of the ginseng, has medicinal purposes including boosting the immune system and helping to increase energy. The soup is consumed piping hot, since they believe that one must “fight the heat with heat (yi yul chi yul),” and that the hot soup helps them get through the hottest days of summer. In fact, they traditionally eat the dish on the three hottest days of summer according to the lunar calendar.
Jangeo, or eel, is another summer staple dish in Korea.
There are many ways to eat Jangeo, so it’s often left up to preference. However, one of the most common ways is to eat it just after it’s been cleaned off its bones, and marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and other common Korean ingredients.
The dish can also be grilled, served with a side of rice, or even wrapped up in lettuce. Jangeo is a fantastic source of vitamins A and E, and is also known as an aphrodisiac, making it a favourite dish among men.
This dish is one of the most popular, since it features cold noodles when you need a break from “fighting the heat with a hot dish”!
It is made from buckwheat noodles that are drained and placed in a kimchi cold broth. The broth typically includes cucumber, meat, and other vegetables, and is sometimes topped with red chilli paste — giving it the signature hot summer flavour. Those who eat this dish benefit from the cucumber, which provides a great way to stay hydrated, aid in weight loss and even digestive balance.
Another chicken dish that Korea is famous for, chogye guksu is prepared with homemade noodles, and similarly to makguksu, served with chilled broth. The broth offers a strong taste due to the addition of vinegar, hot mustard paste, lemon, soy sauce, and other seasonings.
Other vegetables like cabbage and cucumber are added to make the dish even more refreshing. This dish offers a replenishing meal to those just trying to make it through the hot Korean summer heat.
Another hot but refreshing summer Korean dish is oi-muchim. Fresh cucumbers are sliced and garnished with onions and red chilli flakes, offering the signature heat of summer Korean dishes. Sesame seeds are also added, along with vinegar to create a zesty tang. Vinegar is a known antioxidant that prevents infections, helps with allergies, and even helps reduce acid reflux and heartburn. A benefit-packed ingredient!
Enjoy this wonderful Summer feast on your trip to Korea while staying at Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo. Located in the bustling Songdo business district, Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo is not far from Incheon International Airport and the Songdo Central Park; So, enjoy some of the best Korea has to offer when you stay at the Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo.