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5 Korean Summer Foods You Need to Try

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

pat bingsu korean shave ice

From cold noodle soups like Naengmyeon to hot soups like Samgyetang, it's important to nourish your body during the sweltering Korean summer, ensuring a healthy and enjoyable season.

Here are 5 Korean summer dishes you need to try.

1. Naengmyeon

Mul Naengmyeon cold noodles
Mul Naengmyeon

Naengmyeon (냉면) is a Korean cold noodle dish made with buckwheat or wheat noodles, served in a chilled beef or chicken broth. The name "naengmyeon" literally means "cold noodles" in Korean. It is often topped with sliced cucumbers, radishes, and a hard-boiled egg. Naengmyeon is a popular dish in Korea, especially during the summer. It is said to be a good way to cool down on a hot day.

There are two main types of naengmyeon: mul naengmyeon (물냉면) and bibim naengmyeon (비빔냉면). Mul naengmyeon is served in a chilled beef or chicken broth, while bibim naengmyeon is served with a spicy sauce made from gochujang (chili paste).

Bibim Naengmyeon cold noodles
Bibim Naengmyeon

Naengmyeon is a Korean cold noodle dish that has a long and rich history. The earliest known records of naengmyeon date back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), when it was a popular dish among the royal court.

Get Naengmyeon delivered from:

Itaewon Old School Jipbap Dosirak (Available in Sinchon area)

Yeonnam Street Naengmyeon (Available in Sinchon area)

2. Kong-guksu (콩국수)

konggukso soba cold noodles

Kongguksu (콩국수) is a Korean noodle dish made with a chilled soy milk broth and thin wheat flour noodles. The name "kongguksu" literally means "soybean noodle soup" in Korean.

The dish is made by first making a soy milk broth from soybeans. This gives it a unique, creamy texture and a subtle nutty flavor that is different from other types of noodle soups. The broth is then chilled, and the noodles are added. The noodles are then topped with a variety of garnishes, such as cucumbers, scallions, fried shallots, and hard-boiled eggs.

It is unknown when Korean people started eating kongguksu; however, in accordance with the mention of the dish along with kkaeguksu (깨국수, sesame noodle soup) in Siui jeonseo, a Joseon cookbook published around the late 19th century, it is presumed to have originated at least as early as the 19th century.

3. Samgyetang

Samgyetang (삼계탕) is a traditional Korean ginseng chicken soup. The name "samgyetang" is made up of three Korean words:

Sam (삼), which means "three"

Gye (계), which means "chicken"

Tang (탕), which means "soup"

The name "samgyetang" literally translates to "three chicken soup", because the dish is traditionally made with three ingredients that are believed to be the most important: ginseng, jujube fruits, and glutinous rice.

Samgyetang is made with a whole young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, garlic, jujube fruits, and ginseng. The chicken is then boiled in a broth made with water, ginger, and other spices.

Koreans eat Samgyetang in the summer for a number of reasons.

  • Traditional Korean medicine (TKM) believes that eating hot foods in the summer helps to "fight fire with fire" and can help to balance the body's temperature. Samgyetang is a hot soup that is made with ginseng, which is believed to have a number of health benefits, including boosting the immune system and improving circulation.

  • The three hottest days of summer (sambok) are considered to be a time of high heat and humidity, which can be taxing on the body. Samgyetang is a traditional dish that is believed to help to keep people cool and healthy during this time.

  • The ingredients in samgyetang are believed to have a number of health benefits. The chicken is a good source of protein, and the ginseng is believed to boost the immune system and improve circulation. The jujube fruits are also believed to have health benefits, such as improving digestion and reducing fatigue.

If you are feeling fatigued and need a nutritious and comforting meal this summer, be sure to try Samgyetang.

4. Oi Naengguk

Oi naengguk
Oi Naengguk

Image Source: Koreanbapsang

Oi naengguk (오이냉국) is a Korean cold cucumber soup that is a refreshing and popular during the hot summer months. It is made with thinly sliced cucumbers, rehydrated seaweed (optional), green onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt or soup soy sauce. The soup is then chilled and served with ice cubes.

Oi naengguk is believed to have originated in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It was originally a simple dish made with cucumbers, salt, and water. However, over time, the dish was adapted to include other ingredients, such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, and green onions.

Oi naengguk is not commonly served at restaurants, but you can make it easily at home.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 large cucumber, chilled

1 clove garlic, minced

1 green onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh red chili pepper (optional)

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

4 teaspoons vinegar

5-6 cherry tomatoes, sliced (optional)

1 cup cold water

7-8 ice cubes (1 cup)

1- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, ground

Find the full recipe on Maangchi here.

5. Bingsu

pat bingsu
Pat Bingsu

Bingsu (빙수) is a popular Korean dessert that consists of shaved ice topped with a variety of sweet toppings. The ice is shaved very finely to create a soft and fluffy texture that melts in your mouth. There are many different variations of bingsu, but some of the most popular toppings include sweet red bean paste, fresh fruit, condensed milk, chocolate sauce, and ice cream. Some bingsu also include chewy rice cakes, mochi, or nuts for added texture and flavor. It often comes in large portions to be shared with two or more people.

This shaved ice dessert has a long and fascinating history. It is believed to have originated in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) when government officials would shave ice from a royal ice box and serve it with fruit. The red bean was added for an additional touch of sweetness. In fact, “patbingsu” translates to “red bean ice flakes.”

During the Korean War, foreign influences led to the addition of nuts, rice cakes, cereals, and syrups. An original and traditional bingsu is made with shaved ice, red bean paste, tteok (rice cake), and ground soybean powder.

The modern versions of the iced desserts were began to be sold in Taegeukdang (Korean: 태극당), the oldest bakery in Seoul that opened in 1946.

Today, bingsu is a popular dessert in Korea that is eaten year-round. It is a delicious and refreshing treat that is perfect for a hot day. There are many different variations of bingsu, but most commonly it includes sweetened red beans, fruits, syrups, and nuts.

Get Bingsu delivered from Full Moon (Available in Gongdeok area)

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Stay hydrated and enjoy your Korean summer food adventure!

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