Rice is one of the key elements of South Korean cuisine and can be found in a multitude of dishes. Korea’s love for the crop can be found in dishes like gimbap and bibimbap, of course, but are you aware that South Korea is home to some of the most unique forms of rice consumption? Here are just a couple of the most surprising ways rice is enjoyed on the peninsula.
In South Korean cuisine, rice is commonly enjoyed in a bowl served alongside various side dishes. However, in makgeolli, rice is actually turned into an alcoholic beverage! Made by mixing rice with yeast, water, and nuruk (a starter culture used to turn the combination into alcohol), makgeolli is a traditional Korean beverage commonly enjoyed with fried foods like pajeon and bindae-tteok. Makgeolli is reported to have a slightly sweet, bitter, and tangy taste and bears a low alcohol proof rate as well, but be sure to enjoy makgeolli both legally and responsibly!
Rice can be used in a large variety of ways, but have you ever imagined rice as a filling? Well in yubuchobap, rice is mixed with various ingredients and stuffed into fried tofu to make delicious, savory bites! The shape created can be seen as reminiscent of a dumpling’s shape, and, just like dumplings, yubuchobap make a perfect addition to any picnic or lunchbox!
Like makgeolli, sungnyung is a drink made from rice, albeit non-alcoholic. Instead, sungnyung is actually a tea made from scorched rice that sticks to the bottom of the rice pot. However, the popularity of rice cookers has lead to a decrease of scorched rice, but this hasn’t stopped people from making this delicious tea using other methods! Oven broilers and additional rice cooker settings are both used to make sungnyung, accomplished by adding the water to the bits of scorched rice and steeping it accordingly to make the tea.
Contrary to other rice dishes, yaksik is actually a sweet dish that’s meant to be enjoyed as a dessert treat! Composed of glutinous rice, honey, nuts, and dried fruits, yaksik is not only appetizing, but it’s made of healthy ingredients as well! With glutinous rice holding this treat together, yaksik has both a great taste and texture!
South Korea’s love for rice extends passed savory dishes and is shown to extend into other types of food. Through these dishes, rice is shown to not only be useful as a savory ingredient but also as a sweet ingredient and even an ingredient for drinks as well! So next time you’re out, keep an eye out for these interesting dishes!
Written by Kyle Voong