Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What to eat during Ramadan in South Korea

Yache (야채) Bibimbap

When one travels to Korea for the first time then there are two major concerns, one being the language barrier and the other being food. I'll talk of food since one can NOT do without it.

Particularly, if somebody is traveling to Korea and does not belong to the eat-whatever group of people then life is a little tough. I'll definitely recommend everybody to google Korean Cuisine and then see what works for them before their trip to Korea starts. By the way, I've to say that one has a lot to choose from within Korean cuisine since it is very diverse. Korean Cuisine revolves around vegetables, seafood and meat that comes in combination with a rice bowl or noodles and loads of side dishes called panchun (반찬). If somebody is a vegetarian or is barred to eat a few things due to religious reasons or otherwise, I see no point that they be worrying too much.

I will focus on how to find halal food within Korean cuisine and there is plenty. (However, I'll suggest only a couple of dishes in this post).

1) Bibimbap tops my list.  Bibimbap is a large bowl of rice topped with a rich variety of individually prepared sitr-fried vegetables and tuna or beef etc. and served with seasoned red pepper paste. Some of the very standard ones come with a fried egg on top of it. Order "Yachae (야채:vegetables) bibimbap or Chamchi - dolsot (돌솥 비빔밥) bimimbap (stonebowl tuna bibimbap). It is one of the most representative foods of Korea and has been officially sponsored by the government for the globalization of Korean cuisine. I still remember that our university neighborhood in Sinchon had this dish starting with 2500 won (2USD) and was better than a 10,000 won (10USD) bibimbap in Insadong.

Sundubu Chigae

2) Sundubu Chigae or 순두부찌개 (chigae is also spelled as jjigae) is my second most favorite food. Chigae is a Korean stew and this is roughly called tofu+seafood stew. The type of tofu (dubu) used in this stone pot dish has a texture so smooth it is almost like custard or yogurt. Among the seafood oysters, mussels, clams and shrimp are common ingredients, vegetables include mushrooms, onion, scallions, and kochujang or kochu garu (chili powder). It is pretty spicy and is eaten with plain rice.

Ssang-song kui - grilled mackerel.

3) Ssangsong Kui (생선귀)is grilled fish. Usually, grilled mackerel is served with a variety of side dishes, lettuces and rice. It is a good choice for anybody looking for a halal food in Korea.

Doenjang Chigae

4) Doenjang Chigae or 된장 찌개 (Fermented bean paste stew) is also a good choice but most probably it will take time to  build a taste for it. It is considered as one of the healthiest among the already healthy Korean cuisine. The key ingredients are, as the name suggests, Korean bean paste and tofu. It has an array of vegetables and sometimes anchovies are added while making a broth. It has strong fermented smells hence, if you are NOT good with the fermented food, seafood smells then avoid it.


5) Phajeon or Korean Pizza:  It’s fairly inexpensive and generally really well balanced nutritionally. It is completely unpretentious and delicious. It looks like a pizza and we can say that it is a big/ plate sized pakarora or a pancake with kimchi or seafood or vegetables or cheese in it. People love to have it on a rainy day or a really cold day.

Lotteria's shrimp burger: Source

6) Shrimp/Fish burger at Lotteria: Among the fast food chains my favorite is Lotteria. They have a very fantastic shrimp burger set as well as fish and squid burger sets. They are halal, they are 'really' tasty and they are inexpensive. You can also enjoy how the idea of fast food changes from country to country and how some countries have taken it to next/better level, hence try a Korean version of fast foods at Lotteria.By the way, Lotteria's shrimp burger has been around since 1977.

I will give Lotteria "A+"- I'm hooked to them through their spicy squid burger set. They have changed it a little since it used to be super hot but super tasty!