Vacation weather, summer breeze, waterpark season, blah, blah, blah…. call it what you like, but there’s no point hiding the fact that summer in Korea can get ridiculously hot. Air conditioning and fans sometimes just don’t cut it. Even a cold shower doesn’t cut it. The moment you step out of the bathroom, humidity hits. Again. But Korean summer foods come to the rescue!
Summer ruins your metabolism, health, and stamina because of how much sweat (= water) you lose during the day. Now, Koreans have found their own solution to battle the heat: a tradition called, “복날,” pronounced Boknal.
There are three of these during the summer: Chobok (the first bok), Joongbok (the middle bok), and Malbok (the last bok). They take place over the course of three separate days in the summer annually and depend on the lunar calendar.
These three days are supposed to be the hottest days of this summer. Put your shades on and chopsticks up and get ready for these Korean summer foods that are guaranteed to keep you safe from the heat.
Best Korean Summer Foods
10. Fried Chicken | 치킨
치킨! Fried chicken kind of counts as a boknal dish because it’s still chicken, and chicken keeps body temperatures up and steady. So… a little cheat for you guys. But, go less on the skin and more on the meat. Yeah, not gonna happen.
9. Jeonbok (Abalone) | 전복
Usually eaten live or fried, abalone increases liver functioning and gets rid of fatigue. In addition, it increases stamina. It also has taurine, which helps increase blood circulation and clean blood circuits. Last but not least, it’s filled with vitamin A (a for abalone?) which is great for our eyes. Not to mention it’s super chewy and juicy.
8. Kongguksu (Soy Milk Noodle Soup) | 콩국수
Sounds gross, tastes delicious. Add sugar or salt to your liking and enjoy its savory but deep flavor. A popular dish served cold, soy is high in protein, excellent in preventing cancer and the spreading of cancer cells, lowers cholesterol, and strengthens our bones. Also, soy naturally enhances estrogen, so that’s for you, ladies.
7. Patjuk (Red Bean Porridge) | 팥죽
If you’ve lived in Korea for a while, you’re probably used to red bean menus. If you’re new to it, no problem. It’s awesome for relieving diarrhea (we all have one of those days), preventing hair loss, and helping improve and prevent diabetes. Not to mention, it’s filled with vitamin B1, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Served hot and sweet.
6. Chueotang (Mudfish Soup) | 추어탕
Don’t run away because it’s made of mudfish! All of the fish is grinded into the soup and therefore, you can’t feel or taste it at all. However, all of its benefits are still there, perfectly blended in, savory and steaming hot. It’s a popular dieting dish because of how much fiber, vitamins, protein, and calcium it has. Very little fat, and excellent for anti-aging.
5. Nakji (Small Octopus) | 낙지
It’s enjoyed raw for the brave, cooked and steamed for anyone who knows how to enjoy seafood. Usually spiced up to complement its chewy texture, nakji is filled with taurine, amino acid, minerals, and has almost zero to no fat. Come on, filling but no fat? It’s great for stamina, and strengthening hematosis (oxygenating blood into lungs, or something like that. It’s good for you.). Try it out. Believe it or not, it’s a popular delicacy.
4. Dakgogi Salad (Chicken Salad) | 닭고기 샐러드
We all know what comes in a chicken salad. Lessen the dressing (we recommend oil-based or vinegar-based dressing, which means no heavy Thousand Islands stuff) and mix in your favorite greens with roasted or steamed chicken. Chicken breast is recommended.
3. Jangeo (Eel) | 장어
Eel is a common dish in Korea, and it’s probably the best dish in this list when it comes to stamina. More specifically, men’s stamina. We know what this all means. Enough said. But, FYI, it’s also great for the skin, anti-aging, lowering cholesterol, and has plenty of Vitamin A, B, and C for everyone. Fry it, steam it, sear it. It’s super tasty. Reminds me of teriyaki, but better.
2. Seolleongtang (Beef Bone Soup) | 설렁탕
High in both protein and calories (warning!), this soup is deep in flavor and often comes served with a huge pile of chopped green onions. Adding salt to one’s liking is a popular way to enjoy this hangover favorite, but doctors recommend only a pinch of salt. Made with beef bone, the soup is excellent.
And, the boknal favorite,
1. Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup) | 삼계탕
The most famous, popular, and well-liked dish for the Boknal season. This savory and filling soup raises your body temperature so that your body is less affected by the heat, maintaining an equilibrium. It’s high in protein and amino acids, but more than that, it has ginseng.
Ginseng is known to be the one-step-cure-all. Ginseng helps clear up bad bacteria in our system and take cares of our digestive system, making sure everything is flowing down there smoothly.
This soup also has the ability to prevent heart diseases and other adult diseases (which usually appear around age 40), heighten blood circulation, and steady anemia. With a whole chicken completely soaked in broth made of different oriental vegetables, it’s the tastiest medicine you’ll likely ever eat
Instead of chasing after bingsoos and naengmyeon, give these dishes a try this summer. Although Chobok, Joongbok, and Malbok, are when you’re supposed to enjoy these treats, Korean people also have these dishes whenever they feel weak in stamina.
Have a seat next to ajummas and ahjussis and take care of your body. And, hey. They all taste great.