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Pajeon and Makgeolli: Korea's Rainy Day Comfort Food

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Rainy days have a charm of their own, don't they? There's something soothing about the gentle patter of raindrops and the cozy atmosphere it creates. But for those experiencing an extended rainy season in Korea, it's understandable to crave a little extra comfort. That's why we've put together this guide to Korea's top rainy day comfort foods– a delightful selection of dishes that will warm your heart and satisfy your taste buds during this damp season.

Pajeon: Korea's Rainy Day Comfort Food

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When it comes to comforting Korean foods, pajeon takes center stage. These savory pancakes are a beloved staple, made with a variety of ingredients such as scallions, or green onions (pa), seafood (haemul), or kimchi. Pajeon offers a delightful combination of crispy edges and soft, flavorful interiors.

The tradition of enjoying pajeon on rainy days stems from the belief that the sizzling sound of the pancake cooking mirrors the sound of raindrops falling outside. It creates a cozy ambiance that perfectly complements the gloomy weather.

To experience the authentic flavors of pajeon, you can visit local restaurants known for their expertise in creating this delectable dish. From bustling street food stalls to cozy, traditional eateries, there are numerous places where you can savor the mouthwatering goodness of pajeon on a rainy day.

Different Types of Pajeon and Jeon

1. Haemul-Pajeon: Seafood Pancake

haemuljeon korean pancakes
Squid & Chive Seafood Pancakes

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For seafood enthusiasts, haemul-pajeon is the perfect rainy day treat. This variation of pajeon is packed with an assortment of fresh seafood like shrimp, squid, and clams. The combination of seafood flavors with the crispy texture of the pancake creates a heavenly culinary experience.

Haemul-pajeon is especially popular during the rainy season as the savory aroma and rich taste provide a sense of comfort and indulgence. This is a heartier pajeon than most--and also the most common. It's often enjoyed alongside a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil, enhancing the flavors even further.

2. Buchujeon: Garlic Chive Pancake

buchujeon korean pancake jeon
Chive & Mushroom Pancakes

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Buchujeon is a flavorful Korean pancake that highlights the aromatic taste of garlic chives. Excellent for vegetarians, the pancake batter is mixed with garlic chives, which lend their distinctively fragrant and mildly garlicky flavor to the dish. This savory pancake is enjoyed for its crispy texture and rich flavor, and it makes a delightful accompaniment to any Korean meal–breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

3. Gamjajeon: Potato Pancake

potato pancakes
Potato Pancakes

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Another popular choice for rainy day Korean foods is gamjajeon, a salty and savory potato pancake that offers the perfect combination of textures. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, gamjajeon is a hearty rainy day comfort food that is a guaranteed crowd pleaser and is sure to fill you up.

Gamjajeon is loved for its simplicity and versatility. The mild, earthy flavors of the potato pancake make it a perfect accompaniment to a rainy day. It's a dish that brings warmth and nourishment, providing a sense of comfort amidst the rainy weather.

4. Gogijeon: Meat Pancake

gogijeon beef pancakes
Meat Pancakes

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Gogijeon, also written as "meat-jun," is a delectable Korean pancake that showcases the vibrant flavors of one of Korea's favorite ingredients - Hanwoo beef. Thin slices of marinated beef are combined with a batter made from flour and eggs, then fried until golden and crispy. This savory and meaty pancake offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors, making it a beloved dish for meat lovers and pajeon enthusiasts alike.

Get Meat Pancakes delivered from:

Lak Hee Oak (Available in Jongro/Euljiro area)

Makgeolli: Korean Rice Wine

makgeolli bowl
Makgeolli is usually served in a bottle or bowl, making it perfect for sharing.

Image Source: NomadHer

No rainy day Korean food experience would be complete without a sip of makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice wine. Makgeolli is characterized by its milky appearance and lightly sweet and tangy flavor. It pairs perfectly with the savory pancakes we've explored so far.

The tradition of enjoying pajeon with makgeolli on rainy days has deep cultural roots. The combination of the crispy pancakes and the refreshing rice wine creates a delightful contrast of flavors. It's believed that this pairing brings harmony and balance to the senses, elevating the overall rainy day dining experience.

To fully immerse yourself in the world of makgeolli, you can visit specialized "makgeolli bars" or traditional Korean restaurants that serve this iconic rice wine. Experience the unique taste of makgeolli as you sip it alongside the delicious array of pancakes, enhancing the flavors and adding an extra layer of enjoyment to your rainy day.

How is Makgeolli Made?

Makgeolli is made from a combination of rice, water, nuruk (a fermentation starter or yeast), and occasionally added sugars. The rice used for makgeolli is typically short-grain rice, and the fermentation process gives it a slightly cloudy appearance.

Makgeolli boasts a unique flavor profile characterized by its sweet and tangy taste. It has a delicate balance of sweetness from the rice, acidity from the fermentation process, and a subtle hint of earthiness. The texture is smooth and slightly creamy, with a slight effervescence that adds a refreshing touch. Overall, makgeolli offers a distinctively yogurty and mildly fruity flavor, making it a popular choice among those seeking a refreshing and enjoyable traditional Korean alcoholic beverage.

The Health Benefits of Makgeolli

Image Source: Gastro Obscura

Makgeolli offers several potential health benefits when consumed in moderation--that is, if you save it for a rainy day.

  1. Probiotic properties: Makgeolli is a naturally fermented beverage, which means it contains live cultures of beneficial bacteria. These probiotics can support gut health by promoting a balanced gut microbiome and aiding digestion.

  2. Nutritional value: Makgeolli retains some of the nutrients from the rice used during fermentation, including vitamins B and C, as well as amino acids. These nutrients contribute to overall nutritional intake and can give you energy and support immune function.

  3. Antioxidant content: Makgeolli contains antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which can help combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body. These antioxidants may contribute to various health benefits, including cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

  4. Skin benefits: Some research suggests that the antioxidants in makgeolli may have positive effects on skin health. They can help protect against UV damage, promote skin hydration, and potentially reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

It's important to note that moderation is key when consuming makgeolli or any alcoholic beverage. Excessive alcohol consumption can have adverse health effects, and it's always recommended to drink responsibly and in accordance with personal health circumstances.

Image Source: In My Korea

As the rain showers outside create a gentle rhythm, the world of rainy day Korean foods unfolds with comforting flavors and heartwarming experiences. From the savory delights of pajeon, haemul-pajeon, buchujeon, and gamjajeon to the invigorating sips of makgeolli, these culinary treasures provide the perfect companionship on gloomy days.

So, the next time the rain pours, why not seek solace in the inviting aroma and flavors of these rainy day Korean foods? Embrace the cozy atmosphere, let the comforting tastes transport you, and create your own memorable rainy day culinary experience.

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