Friday, July 22, 2011

Korean Summer Foods stave off The Heat !

Summer in Korea kicks off in June, and brings with it periods of heavy rain that last until the middle of July and muggy temperatures. When these hot and humid days come, people stay inside, where air conditioners keep everyone cool, or visit parks, recreation centers, and water parks in order to make the most of the hot weather and have some fun.

However, there is a way for Koreans and foreigners to beat the heat and stay healthy this summer. Eating! Not just anything, but eating Korean dishes prepared especially for the summer! Read on to find out which foods will restore your strength and refresh your spirit this summer.

Soup for the Soul: Chicken Ginseng Soup, Samgyetang ( 삼계탕)
In Korea, the hottest period of the year is known as Boknal, which roughly translated means “the dog days of summer”. Boknal last for about a month, and during this time Koreans eat healthy food to try and keep their strength up in the hot weather. The first day of Boknal is known as Chobok, and this year it falls on July 14th. On Chobok, Koreans traditionally eat Chicken Ginseng Soup (Samgyetang).

Since Samgyetang is very high in nutritional value, it rejuvenates the body remarkably well. The dish is prepared by removing the chicken’s internal organs, adding garlic, glutinous rice, jujube, ginger, licorice root, and various other types of herbs, and boiling all the ingredients together. The dish is a great way to conquer fatigue and exhaustion during the hot months.

Although it might seem strange to eat a hot dish during summer time, you could say that Samgyetang “fights fire with fire”. Koreans believe that if you heat up the inside of your body with a hot soup, then the outside of your body will actually feel cooler. You can also add a number of different ingredients to this dish. Though the price may be a little steep, you may want to try the extremely nutritious Abalone Samgyetang.

Sweet , Spicy, and Chewy Chicken, Jjimdak ( 찜닭)

With samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup) and jjimdak (seasoned and simmered chicken), chicken is definitely a quintessential summer food. Jjimdak is made with chicken that’s already been prepared, hot peppers, mushrooms, carrots, and other vegetables. At the end, starch noodles are added and the dish is cooked again at a high temperature. This dish is characterized by its spiciness, so it is good to eat with dongchimi (watery radish kimchi) on the side.

Regain lost appetite with broiled eel, Jangeo-gui ( 장어구이)

When summer comes, it is easy to lose your appetite. If you are feeling low, broiled eel provides a great boost. Eel contains Vitamin A and Vitamin E and is very good for blood circulation. It is also believed to be helpful in boosting stamina. Many visitors that travel to Korea enjoy this dish.

There are two ways of cooking Jangeogui, broiled eels. One way is to first season it with various spices such as hot pepper paste, sugar, soybean sauce, minced garlic and ginger, sesame oil, and then grill the eel. The other way is to season the eel only with salt and then grill it. Jangeo-deopbap, rice topped with broiled eel is also a popular dish. The towns of Pungcheon and Paju are famous for Jangeogui. Pungcheon in Jeollabuk-do province is on an estuary, so eals caught in Pungcheon are very delicious. There are also many famous Jangeogui restaurants in Paju in Gyeonggi-do Province, which is on the outskirts of Seoul.

Cool Down with Cold Noodles, Naengmyeon & Kongguksu ( 냉국수,냉면,콩국수)
During summer, Koreans enjoy eating cold noodles, cold bean noodles, and Kimchi noodles. Naengmyeon (Cold noodles), made from buckwheat, are enjoyed by many Koreans, and the dish was once a specialty item in North Korea, where it was actually eaten during the winter season. North Korean style noodles, Pyeongyang Naengmyeon and Hamheung Naengmyeon, have now become famous throughout Korea.

There are two types of cold noodles: mul-naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles in chilled broth) and bibim-naengmyeon(cold buckwheat noodles with vegetables, meat and sauce). Mul- naengmyeon includes sliced beef, boiled egg, cucumber, and pear, while bibim-naengmyeon also has hot and spicy seasoning.

Kongguksu (noodles in chilled white bean soup), which is made out of ground beans, is another good dish for those who have lost their appetite. Kimchi noodles, which are made from a mixture of kimchi broth and meat broth, is also a summer specialty. kimchi noodles have the special taste of kimchi, which is cooked for a long time, and meat is added to enhance the flavor of the dish. Rice can be added instead of noodles to make it even heartier.

ice yogurt dessert with sweet red beans and fruit toppings. (빙수)

As well as regular ice cream, a traditional dish called “Bingsu” is very popular in Korea during summer. Shaved ice is mixed with fruit, rice cakes, milk, ice cream, and syrup. Other ingredients are also added to create different types of Bingsu. Depending on which ingredient you add more of, the Bingsu has a different name, such as Sweet Red Bean Bingsu, Fruit Bingsu, Green tea Bingsu, and Coffee Bingsu.

If you want to try sweet red bean Bingsu with its original pure taste, then the cafe Meal Top is strongly recommended. The key to the success of this cafe was that it stuck to the traditional way of making Bingsu. The cafe does not use artificial food additives. Instead, it uses only well boiled red beans and fresh fruit as ingredients. Meal Top is located on 5th floor of the Hyundai Department Store in Apgujeong-dong in Seoul. Also, is famous for green tea bingsu and the cafe is famous for its varied fruit toppings.

Recently a string of low fat foods have been introduced into Korea, of these low fat yogurt is very popular in Korea. , where low-fat yogurt and yogurt bingsu are sold, is very popular with people who are on a diet.

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