Cuisine Index

This compilation of dishes covers most of the basic Korean food out there today. Obviously this is not a comprehensive list of Korean dishes, but having lived in Seoul for quite some time and growing up with a mom who knows how to cook a few dishes, I can say that it’s pretty close. I hope this index will help you find what you are looking for while possibly introducing you to some new dishes.

Meat & Poultry Dishes 
  • Bulgogi (불고기; Marinated BBQ Beef) – thinly sliced or shredded beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, green onions and black pepper, cooked on a grill (sometimes at the table). Bulgogi literally means “fire meat”. Variations include pork (dweji bulgogi), chicken (dak bulgogi), or squid (ojingeo bulgogi).
  • Dak Galbi (닭 갈비; Spicy Chicken Stir Fry) – Galbi means ribs, but this doesn’t mean literally the use of chicken ribs, but rather chunks of marinated chicken are stir-fried with gochujang (hot pepper paste), vegetables and chewy tteok (rice cake).
  • Galbi (갈비; BBQ Short Beef Ribs) – beef ribs, cooked on a metal plate over charcoal in the center of the table or grilled like regular barbecue. The meat is sliced thicker than bulgogi. It is often called “Korean BBQ,” where it is usually seasoned and marinated with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil.
  • Dweji Galbi (돼지 갈비; Grilled Pork Ribs) – marinated pieces of pork ribs grilled over charcoals or over an open flame. Served with ssamjang (dipping sauce), lettuce varieties, and plenty of seasonal banchan (side dishes).
  • Andong Jjimdak (안동찜닭; Spicy Braised Chicken n Vegetables) – Originating in Andong, this sweet, spicy, savory dish includes loads of chicken and large chunks of vegetables. Popular among students for its inexpensive price, it’s enjoyed by all who love spicy food and chicken.
  • Samgyupsal (삼겹살; Grilled Pork Belly Strips) – Unseasoned pork belly (similar to uncured bacon but thicker), served in the same fashion as galbi. Sometimes cooked on a grill with kimchi and other vegetables like mushrooms and beansprouts. Commonly grilled with garlic and onions, dipped in ssamjjang (spicy dipping sauce)and wrapped in lettuce leaves.
  • Makchang (막창; Grilled Pork or Beef Large Intestine) – grilled pork intestines (similar to chitterlings) usually served over coals. Often served with a light dwenjang sauce (fermented soybean paste) and chopped green onions, this is a popular anju dish eaten with soju (distilled rice liquid).
  • Gopchang (곱창; Grilled Pork or Beef Small Intestine) – similar to makchang except prepared from the small intestines of pork, beef, or ox.
  • Bossam (보쌈; Boiled Pork Belly or Pork) – pork belly boiled in spices and seasoned for a flavorful meal. The slices of meat are usually eaten with lettuce varieties (ssam), ssamgjang (wrap sauce), bossam kimchi, and slices of garlic.
  • Dombae Gogi (돔배고기; Boiled Pork Belly or Pork) – similar to bossam, except the use of famed Jeju black pig served on a wooden cutting board. The slices of meat are usually eaten with lettuce varieties (ssam), ssamgjang (wrap sauce), bossam kimchi, and slices of garlic.
  • Jokbal (족발; Cooked Pig’s Feet) – pig’s feet served with a red salted shrimp sauce called saewujeot or the basic hot sauce consisting of gochujang (red pepper paste)Though the name might not sound appetizing, this dish has its followers who search out for it.
  • Jaeyuk Bokkeum (재육 볶음; Spicy Pork Stir Fry) – thinly sliced pork (usually pork shoulder or loin) marinated in a spicy sauce to create a savory and spicy dish. This dish can be eaten with a variety of lettuce leaves to balance the spiciness of the dish.
  • Donkatsu (돈까스; Breaded Pork Cutlets) – thin pork chops breaded and deep fried for an extra crunchy texture. Originally a Japanese dish but has gained popularity in Korea and other Asian countries. It’s usually served with shredded cabbage and miso soup.
  • Chicken Tangsuyuk (탕수육; Sweet n Sour Chicken) – battered and fried chicken pieces smothered over a sweet and sour sauce similar to that served in Chinese-American cuisine.
  • Korean Fried or Flavored Chicken (양념 치킨) – although not a traditional dish, Korean fried chicken is different than Western chicken due to its crispy, paper-like thin outer coating and less oily from double frying.
  • Kalbi Jjim (갈비짬; Braised Beef Short Ribs) – beef short ribs slowly braised for a few hours in soy based sauce that includes a healthy dose of sugar, garlic, sesame oil, and chili peppers. This is a popular dish for festive events and holidays with large gatherings.
Fish & Seafood Dishes
  • Hwe (회; Raw Seafood) – various raw fish and seafood are dipped in gochujang (hot pepper paste) or soy sauce with wasabi, served with lettuce or sesame leaves.
  • Sannakji (산낙지; Live Octopus) – sannakji is a live octopus that has been cut into pieces with its legs and body parts still moving on the plate. It is usually dipped in a sesame oil based sauce to prevent the tentacles from sticking onto the throat. There have been some fatalities reported from eating this dish.
  • Godeungeo Jorim (고등어 조림; Braised Mackerel w Radish) – mackerel pieces are braised in a spicy sauce with chunks of radish, onion, and scallions; also eaten with lettuce varieties.
  • Godeungeo Gui (고등어 구이; Grilled Mackerel) – grilled mackerel pieces either cooked over coals or open flame.
  • Nakji Bokkeum (낙지볶음; Spicy Octopus Stir Fry) – octopus stir fried with various vegetables in a fiery, hot red pepper sauce, usually eaten or mixed with rice and other banchan (side dishes).
  • Ojingeo Bokkeum (오징어볶음; Spicy Squid Stir Fry) – squid stir fried with various vegetables in a fiery, hot red pepper sauce, usually eaten or mixed with rice and other banchan (side dishes).
  • Godeungeo jorim (고등어 조림; Braised Mackerel w Radish) – mackerel pieces are braised in a spicy sauce with chunks of radish, onion, and scallions; also eaten with lettuce varieties.
  • Okdom Gui (옥돔구이; Grilled Tile Fish) – a popular dish commonly served on Jeju Island. Originally red in appearance, the fish are halved and grilled and/or fried accordingly to region.
  • Chogae Gui (조개구이; Grilled Shellfish) – a popular dish commonly served along the coastlines of Korea. A variety of shellfish are grilled over charcoals and served with various dipping sauces that include chojang (sweet spicy sauce) and soy sauce with wasabi.
Side Dishes & Appetizers
  • Kimchi (김치; Spicy, Fermented Cabbage) – vegetables (usually Napa cabbage, white radish, or cucumber) commonly fermented in a brine of ginger, garlic, green onion and chili pepper. There are endless varieties, and it is served as a side dish or cooked into soups and rice dishes. Koreans traditionally make enough kimchi to last for the entire winter season, although with refrigerators and commercial bottled kimchi this practice has become less common.
  • Baek kimchi (백김치; Non-Spicy Kimchi) – white kimchi made without gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes). It is perfect for those who cannot eat spicy foods.
  • Kakdugi (깍두기; Spicy Radish Cubes) – cubes of radish with a slightly spicy and refreshing taste to it. This particular side dish pairs well with hot soups and stews to give it a nice balance of flavors.
  • Namul (나물; Seasoned Vegetables) – practically any vegetable that has been sauteed, parboiled, or used fresh and then seasoned with spices. There are endless variations of this banchan (or side dish).
  • Kongnamul (콩나물; Soybean Sprouts) – usually eaten in boiled and seasoned banchan. Soybean sprouts are also the main ingredient in kongnamul-bap (sprouts over rice), kongnamul-guk (sprout soup), and kongnamul-gukbap (rice in sprout soup).
  • Pajori (파조리; Green onion/Scallion Salad) – a refreshing and mild dish comprised of thinly sliced scallions, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.
  • Shigeumchi Namul (시금치 나물; Seasoned Spinach) – a simple mix of sesame oil, sugar, and minced garlic to parboiled spinach that makes a healthy Korean side dish. This side dish also can be used in the popular bibimbab (rice mixed with vegetables) dish that Korea is well known for.
  • Baek kimchi (백김치; Non-Spicy Kimchi) – white kimchi made without gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes). It is perfect for those who cannot eat spicy foods.
  • Oi Sobagi (오이 소바기; Cucumber Kimchi) – halved Kirby cucumbers stuffed with hot mixture inside a slitted X. This dish is refreshing for the summer season and with hot, spicy soups.
  • Gaji Namul (가지나물; Seasoned Eggplant) – slices or strips of eggplant steamed and then seasoned with soy sauce, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, sesame oil, and rice vinegar.
  • Jangjorim (장조림; Soy Beef Strips) – beef brisket, flank, or hanger steak strips in a soy based sauce eaten as a side dish. It is usually served with quail eggs that have also been soaked in soy.
  • Kongjaban (콩자반; Sweet Black Beans) – Korean black beans pre-soaked for a lengthy time and then cooked in soy sauce and sugars. It’s a sweet and nutty side dish popular with Korean.
  • Kkaetnip kimchi (깻잎김치; Perilla Leaf Kimchi) – perilla leaf kimchi fermented in soy based sauce. This side dish is excellent with plain white rice and accompanying side dishes.
  • Chonggak kimchi (총각 김치; Pony Tail Radish Kimchi) – kimchi made with pony tail radish served as a refreshing side dish to hot soups and stews. Their crunchy texture makes them ideal with softer foods.

Soups & Stews 

  • Tteok Guk (떡국; Rice Cake Soup) – tteok can be used in various ways, the most common is a soup in white milky broth traditionally eaten on festive holidays or colder months
  • Haejang Guk (해장국; “Hangover Soup”) – a favorite hangover cure consisting usually of meaty pork spine, dried ugeoji (우거지, dried outer leaves of Napa cabbage or other vegetables), coagulated ox blood, and vegetables in a hearty beef broth.
  • Miyeok Guk (미역국; Seaweed Soup) – a very healthy, light soup served generally on birthdays and given to pregnant women, especially after birth.
  • Mandu Guk (만두국; Dumpling Soup) – a hearty soup in white broth sometimes containing tteok (rice cake). This soup can be seen more prevalent during the holiday seasons.
  • Kongnamul Guk (콩나물국; Soybean Sprout Soup) – aka Hangover Soup, usually eaten the day after hangovers by Koreans who love their alcohol. Soybean sprouts served in a lightly salted broth from dried anchovies.
  • Galbitang (갈바탕; Beef Rib Stew) – a hearty soup made from beef short ribs that have been boiled for a length of time to ensure premium taste and flavors. This soup generally includes Korean radish and glass noodles to make for a more appetizing meal.
  • Oritang (오라탕; Duck Stew)- a soup or stew made by slowly simmering duck and various vegetables.
  • Seolleongtang (설렁탕; Ox Bone Soup) –  beef bone stock is simmered overnight then served with thinly sliced pieces of beef. Usually served in a bowl containing dangmyeon (당면, cellophane/rice noodles) and pieces of beef. Sliced scallions and black pepper are used as condiments.
  • Gomtang (곰탕; “Bear” Soup) –  a soup made with various beef parts such as ribs, oxtail (gori gomtang), brisket, etc. by slow simmering on a low flame for many hours. The broth tends to have a milky color with a rich and hearty taste similar to Seolleongtang.
  • Doganitang (도가니탕; Beef Tendon Soup) –  a soup similar to Seolleongtang except the main ingredient is beef knee cartilage. The broth also has a milky color with a rich and hearty taste.
  • Maeuntang (매운탕; Spicy Fish Stew) – a refreshing, hot and spicy fish soup with the entire fish added into the mix.
  • Gamjatang (감자탕; Spicy Pork & Potato Stew) – a spicy soup made with pork spine, vegetables (especially potatoes) and hot peppers. The vertebrae are usually separated. This is often served as a late night snack but may also be served for a lunch or dinner.
  • Daktoritang (닭도리탕; Spicy Chicken Stew) –  A spicy chicken and potato stew that has hearty chunks of potatoes and carrots. Also known as dakbokkeumtang (닭볶음탕) for the more formal name.
  • Samgyetang (삼계탕; Whole Chicken Stew w Stuffed Ginseng): a soup made with Cornish game hens that are stuffed with ginseng, glutinous rice jujubes, garlic, and chestnuts. The soup is traditionally eaten in the summer.
  • Chuatang (추어탕; Loach Soup) – a where the loach is alive right before it is dumped into the soup to be boiled alive to eat.
  • Gori gomtang (꼬리곰탕; Oxtail Soup) – a hearty broth with tender beef literally falling off as you eat it off the bone. This soup is supposed to provide stamina, especially during winter months.
  • Dwenjang jjigae (된장찌개; Soybean Paste Soup) – this soup is typically served as the main course or served alongside a meat course. It contains a variety of vegetables, shellfish, tofu, and occasionally small mussels, shrimp, and/or large anchovies. Usually, anchovies are used for preparing the base stock, and are taken out before adding the main ingredients.
  • Cheonggukjang jjigae (청국장찌개) – a soup made from strong-smelling thick soybean paste containing whole beans
  • Kimchi jjigae (김치찌개; Kimchi Stew) – A soup made with mainly kimchi, pork, and tofu. It is a common lunch meal or compliment to a meat course. It is normally served in a stone pot, still boiling when it arrives at the table.
  • Soondubu jjigae (순두부찌개; Spicy Tofu Stew) –  a spicy stew made with soft tofu and shellfish. Traditionally, the diner puts a raw egg in it while it is still boiling.
  • Budae jjigae (부대찌개, Army Stew) – Soon after the Korean War, meat was scarce in Seoul. Some people made use of surplus foods from US Army bases such as hot dogs and canned ham (such as Spam) and incorporated it into a traditional spicy soup. This budae jjigae is still popular in South Korea, and the dish often incorporates more modern ingredients such as instant ramen noodles.
  • Saengseon jigae (생선찌개; Spicy Fish Stew) –  fish stew usually served spicy with a few vegetable varieties. The perfect stew in the winter season to warm up palates.
  • Jeongol (전골; Hot Pot/Stew)  – elaborate stew consisting of various ingredients. It is generally served on a burner.
  • Sinseollo (신선로; Royal Hot Pot) –  elaborate variety of jeongol once served in Korean royal court cuisine.
  • Gopchang jeongol (곱창 전골)- beef entrails (intestines) and vegetable stew served elaborately under a slow burner.

Rice & Grains

  • Bibimbap (비빔밥; Rice Mixed with Vegetables) – rice topped with seasoned vegetables such as spinach, mushrooms, sea tangle, carrots, bean sprouts, and served with a dollop of gochujang (red pepper paste), and variations often include beef and/or egg. Everything (seasonings, rice and vegetables) is stirred together in one large bowl and eaten with a spoon. One popular variation of this dish, dolsot bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥), is served in a heated stone bowl, which permits the dish to continue cooking after it is served, and in which a raw egg is cooked against the sides of the bowl. Yukhoe bibimbap(육회비빔밥) is another variant of bibimbap, comprising raw beef strips with raw egg and a mixture of soy sauce with Asian pear and gochujang. Hoedeopbap (회덮밥) is another variation of bibimbap using a variety of cubed raw fish.
  • Boribab (보리밥; Barley Rice) – Barley cooked rice; thin, flat pieces sometimes combined with short-grain rice. Known for its health benefits and appealing texture compared to the usual short-grained rice Koreans are accustomed to eating.
  • Nurungji (누룽지; Crispy Rice Leftovers) – The crisp thin layer of rice left on the bottom of the pot when cooking rice which is eaten as a snack. Sometimes, remaining rice on the bottom is cooked intentionally to get that semi-burnt, crispy layer of rice.
  • Ogokbap (오곡밥, Five-Grain Rice) – Usually a mixture of rice, red beans, black beans, millet, and sorghum, but can vary with glutinous rice and other grains in place of these.
  • Kongnamulbap (콩나물밥; Beansprout Rice Bowl) – rice with bean sprouts kongnamul and sometimes pork, often times flavored with some soy sauce.
  • Bokkeumbap (볶음밥; Fried Rice) – fried rice that comes in many varieties including kimchi, seafod, and pork. Koreans often use older rice as it tends to be harder, making it ideal for stir fry.
  • Kimchi Bokkeumbap (김치 볶음밥; Kimchi Fried Rice) – kimchi fried rice with typically chopped vegetables and meats
  • Gimbap (김밥; Rolled Sushi) – is a very popular snack in Korea. It consists of cooked rice, sesame oil, salt, and sesame seeds, to which small amounts of vinegar and sugar are often added as seasonings. Then it is placed on a sheet of gim, dried laver. The seasoned rice is spread on the laver, and then fried egg, julienned carrots, julienned ham, seasoned ground beef or seasoned fish cakes, pickled radish, seasoned spinach, and seasoned gobo and cucumber are then placed closely together on the rice, and is rolled in the manner similar to that of the Japanese sushi. Today, there are many varieties of gimbap: tuna, cheese, bulgogi, vegetable, and more.
  • Juk (죽; Porridge) – porridge usually made from grains such as cooked rice, beans, sesame, and red beans. Juk is often eaten warm and acts a healthy meal for those recovering from sickness as the ingredients can be modified. 
Noodles
  • Naengmyeon (냉면, “Cold Noodles”) –  this dish consists of several varieties of thin, hand-made buckwheat noodles, and is served in a large bowl with a tangy iced broth, raw julienned vegetables and fruit, and often a boiled egg and cold cooked beef. This is also called mul (water) Naengmyeon, to distinguish Bibim Naengmyeon, which has no broth and is mixed with gochujang.
  • Japchae (잡채; Glass Noodles Stir Fried w Vegetables) –  Boiled dangmyeon or potato noodles, steamed spinach, roasted julienned beef, roasted sliced onion, roasted julienned carrots are mixed with seasoning made of soy sauce, sesame oil and half-refined sugar.
  • Jajangmyeon (자장면; Noodles in Sweet Black Bean Sauce) – A variation on a Chinese noodle dish that is extremely popular in Korea. It is made with a black bean sauce, usually with some sort of meat and a variety of vegetables including zucchini and potatoes. Usually ordered and delivered, like pizza.
  • Jjang Bbong (짬뽕; Seafood Noodle Stew) – a very popular Korean-Chinese dish consisting of noodles in spicy seafood broth. This, along with jajangmyeon, are favorites among Koreans, especially when ordering via delivery quick service.
  • Kal Guksu (칼국수) – boiled flat noodles, usually in a broth made of anchovies and sliced zucchini. This is a hearty noodle dish paired well with refreshing side dishes like kimchi and kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi).
  • Janchi Guksu (잔치 국구; Feast Noodles) – thin wheat noodles served over a light broth made from dried anchovies. Topped with julienned zucchini, carrot, eggs, beef strips, and kimchi, providing a healthy noodle dish usually served on festive occasions.
  • Deulkkae Sujebi (들깨수제비) – soft, pasta like pieces of cooked flour in a nutty perilla seeds powder broth. The dough is usually hand-ripped to get peculiar pieces that resemble fingerprints.
  • Sujebi (수제비) – soft, pasta like pieces of cooked flour in a light soup. The dough is usually hand-torn to get peculiar pieces that resemble fingerprints.
  • Bibim Guksu (비빔국수) – noodles mixed with vegetables in a hot and spicy sauce.
  • Ramyun (라면) – aka ramen instant noodles, often eaten spicy at popular fast food restaurants.
  • Janchi Guksu (잔치국수; “feast noodles”) – a light seaweed broth based noodle soup served with fresh condiments, usually kimchi, thinly sliced egg, green onions, and cucumbers.
Korean-Style Pancakes (Jeon/Buchimgae)
  • Jeon (전) is a Korean pancake dish. Fermented kimchi (kimchi jeon) or seafood (haemul pajeon) is mixed into a flour-based batter, and then fried in a heavily oiled pan. This dish tastes best when eaten with a dipping sauce consisting of soy sauce, vinegar, and chili pepper powder.
  • Haemul pajeon (해물 파전) – pancake made with eggs, flour, green onion, and various kinds of seafood, including oysters or fresh baby clams cooked in a frying pan
  • Bindaetteok (빈대떡) – pancake made of ground mung beans, green onions, and kimchi or peppers cooked in a frying pan
  • Gul jeon (굴전) – made with oysters and variety of greens.
  • Hobak jeon (호박전) –  pancake made with squash or zucchini that are julienned and combined in a pancake-like batter.
  • Gochu jeon (고추전) – pancake made with chili peppers.
  • Dubu jeon (두부전) –  pancake made with tofu.
  • Pyogojeon (표고전) –  pancake made with shiitake mushrooms and sometimes beef. The soft shiitake add an extra dimension to this already fine pancake.
Other Popular Snacks
  • Dukbokki/Tteokbokki (떡볶이; Spicy Rice Cake)  –  a casserole dish which is made with sliced rice cake, seasoned beef, fish cakes, and vegetables. It is flavored with gochujang (hot pepper paste).
  • Gungjung Tteokbokki (Non-Spicy Royal Rice Cake) – rice cakes with soy sauce and vegetables. In contrast to the spicy version, this is non-spicy and was served during the royal period of the Joseon Dynasty.
  • Dubu Kimchi (두부김치; Tofu w Sauteed Kimchi) – often eaten as a side dish with alcohol, this combines spicy sauteed kimchi with boiled or fried tofu pieces.
  • Soondae (순대; blood sausage) – Korean sausage made with a mixture of boiled sweet rice, oxen or pig’s blood, potato noodle, mung bean sprouts, green onion and garlic stuffed in a natural casing.
  • Hotteok (호떡; sweet pancake) – similar to pancakes, but the syrup is in the filling rather than a condiment. Melted brown sugar, honey, chopped peanuts and cinnamon are common fillings. Vegetables are sometimes added to the batter. Hotteok is usually eaten during the winter months to “warm up” the body with the sweet and warm syrup in the pancake.
  • Bundaegi (번데기; roasted silkworm pupa) – is steamed or boiled silkworm pupae which are seasoned and eaten as a snack. This can be identified as a street food with vendors selling them from large steel basins.
  • Bungeo Bbang (붕어빵; “carp-bread”) – is the Korean name for the Japanese fish-shaped pastry Taiyaki that is usually filled with sweet red bean paste and then baked in a fish-shaped mold. It is very chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Gukwa-ppang (국화빵) is almost the same as bungeoppang, but it is shaped like a flower. Gyeran-ppang (계란빵, egg bread) has a shape of rounded rectangle and contains whole egg inside of a bread. They are often sold by street vendors.
  • Anju (안주; drinking side dish) – is a general term for a Korean side dish consumed with alcohol (often with Korean soju). It is commonly served at bars, Noraebang (karaoke) establishments, and restaurants that serve alcohol. These side dishes can also be ordered as appetizers or even a main dish. Some examples of anju include steamed squid with gochujang, assorted fruit, dubu kimchi (tofu with kimchi), peanuts, odeng/ohmukgimbap (small or large),samgagimbap (triangle-shaped gimbap), sora (소라 (a kind of shellfish popular in street food tents), and nakji(small octopus). Soondae is also a kind of anju, as is samgyeopsal, or dwejigalbi. Most Korean foods may be served as anju, depending on availability and the diner’s taste. However, anju are considered different from thebanchan side dishes served with a regular Korean meal.
Desserts (Hyusik)
  • Tteok (떡; rice cake) – a chewy cake made from either pounded short-grain rice (메떡, metteok), pounded glutinous rice (찰떡, chaltteok), or glutinous rice left whole, without pounding (약식, yaksik). It is served either cold (filled or covered with sweetened mung bean paste, red-bean paste, raisins, a sweetened filling made with sesame seeds, mashed red beans, sweet pumpkin, beans, dates, pine nuts, and/or honey), usually served as dessert or snack. Sometimes cooked with thinly sliced beef, onions, oyster mushrooms, etc. to be served as a light meal.
  • Songpyeon (송편; sweet rice cake) – chewy stuffed tteok (rice cake) served at Chuseok (Mid-Autumn Festival) decorated with pine needle. Honey or another soft sweet material, or red bean is found inside.
  • Yakshik (약식; “medicinal food”) – is a dessert made with glutinous rice, chestnuts, pine nuts, jujubes, and raw sugar and soy sauce and then steamed for seven to eight hours or until the mixture turns a blackish color. some recipes call for topping the cooked mixture with persimmons.
  • Chapssaltteok (찹쌀떡; chewy rice cake w sweet bean paste) – a variety of tteok filled with sweet bean paste. The chewy and soft rice cakes make for a perfect dessert. Similar to Japanese mochi.
Alcohol, Spirits, & Wines
  • Yakju (약주; hanja: literally “medicinal alcohol”) is a refined rice wine made from steamed rice that has gone through several fermentation stages. It is also called myeongyakju or beopju and is distinguished from takju by its relative clarity.
  • Cheongju (청주; hanja: literally “clear wine” or “clear liquor”) is a clear rice wine similar to Japanese sake. One popular brand of cheongju is Chung Ha (청하), which is widely available at Korean restaurants. There are various local variations, including beopju, which is brewed in the ancient city of Gyeongju.
  • Soju (소주; distilled rice), a clear, slightly sweet distilled spirit, is by far the most popular Korean liquor. It is made from grain or sweet potatoes and is generally inexpensive. It typically has an alcohol content of 40 proof (20% alc. by volume). There is a version with top notch ingredients distilled using traditional methods that hails from the city of Andong that is 90 to 100 proof. This version has a government protection/regulation seal, as Andong has historically been known as a fine soju center among other things. While all soju in Korea are priced almost identically (inexpensively as previously mentioned), Andong soju commands more than 20 times that price. It is the cognac to commercial soju’s vin du pays. In the late 20th century soju flavored with lemon or green tea became available.
  • Makgeoli (막걸리; fermented rice wine), also known as takju (탁주), is a milky, sweet alcoholic beverage made from rice. It is also called nongju (농주; lit. “farmers’ alcohol”). A regional variant, originally from Gyeonggi-do, is called dongdongju. Another variety, called ihwaju (이화주; literally “pear blossom wine”) was so named because it was brewed from rice with rice malt that had fermented during the pear blossom season.
  • Podoju (포도주; wine) is made from rice wine that is mixed with grapes. The most popular fruit wines are made from maesil plums (such wine called maesiljumae hwa sumae chui soon, or Seol Joong Mae), bokbunja (복분자, Korean black raspberries, Rubus coreanus Miquel, 15% alcohol), Chinese quinces, cherries, pine fruits, and pomegranates. Bokbunja ju (복분자주, lit. bokbunja wine) is said by many to be especially good for sexual stamina. These are just a few of the traditional fruit wines, produced by combining fruits or berries with alcohol
  • Gukhwaju (국화주; marketed by Jinro as Chun Kook), acacia flowers, maesil blossoms (maehwaju, ), peach blossoms (dohwaju, honeysuckle (indongju, 인동주), wild roses, and sweet briar petals and berries.There are a number of Korean traditional wines produced from flowers, including chrysanthemums.
  • Dugyeonju (두견주) is a wine made from azalea petals, produced in Chungcheong Province. It is sweet, viscous, and light yellowish brown in color, with a strength of about 21% alcohol.
  • Baekhwaju (백화주), is made from 100 varieties of flowers.
  • Insamju (인삼주) – made with ginseng, this the most popular medicinal wine among older people where they usually leave the ginseng to ferment in alcohol for long periods.
  • Songsunju (송순주) is soju made with glutinous rice and soft, immature pine cones or sprouts.
  • Baek Saeju (백세주; literally “100 years wine”) is a commercial variant of medicinal wine, and is the most popular medicinal wine for younger people, who generally do not drink it primarily for its medicinal properties. It has become a popular alternative to soju in most restaurants and drinking establishments. It is a rice wine infused with ginseng and eleven other herbs, including licorice, omijagugija, astragalus, ginger, and cinnamon, and is 13% alcohol.
  • Sansachun (산사춘) is another commercial Korean wine made from the red fruits of the sansa. This is popular in bars and restaurants serving grilled meats.
  • Maekju (맥주; Western-Style beer) – this was introduced to Korea by Europeans and there are several breweries in South Korea that serve their own version. Cass and Hite are the most well known beer companies in Korea today.
Teas & Non-Alcoholic Beverages
  • Insam cha (인삼차) – Korean ginseng tea
  • Saenggang cha (생강차) – Tea made from ginger root.
  • Sujeonggwa (수정과) – dried persimmon punch
  • Sikhye (식혜) – sweet rice beverage with grains of soft rice floating.
  • Yuja cha (유자차) – citron tea
  • Bori cha (보리차) – roasted barley tea usually made instant with tea bags.
  • Oksusu cha (옥수수차) – roasted corn tea
  • Hyeonmi cha (현미차) – roasted brown rice tea
  • Sungnyung (숭늉) – beverage made from boiled scorched rices
  • Yulmucha (율무차) – Job’s tears tea
  • Misu (미수) – several grains such as rice, barley, beans, glutinous rice, brown rice, Job’s tears, etc. are roasted and then ground to be added to water.
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