Korean Tonic Foods that Will Help You Restore Your Strength and Appetite in the Summer
In the summer heat, we sweat a lot and lose a lot of energy. One of the ways to replenish energy and avoid exhaustion in the face of this intense heat is to eat tonic foods. Consuming tonic foods to stay healthy in the summer is common in many cultures around the world. The Chinese eat fotiaogiang soup, the Thai resort to tom yum goong, and the Spanish enjoy gazpacho.
Koreans also consume tonic foods to recharge themselves with energy in the summer. Many foreigners are already familiar with samgyetang, a Korean ginseng chicken soup which is actively exported overseas. Let us take a look at some other Korean tonic foods.
1. The Summer Best-seller among Tonic Foods, Yukgaejang
Yukgaejang is a spicy soup made with beef, leek, green bean sprouts, and bracken. It is very common and popular among Koreans. Why do they have a hot and spicy yukgaejang in the middle of the summer? Hot dishes encourage blood circulation in the extremities and enlarge the blood vessels, thus helping the body release heat and feel cooler.
Thanks to its healthy effects, various kinds of pre-cooked yukgaejang products offered in retort-type packages are available on the market. Most of them are sterilized at a high temperature and pressure, so they can be safely exported abroad, including to countries with the strictest hygiene regulations. The biggest exporters of retort yukgaejang are CJ Cheiljedang (product: Bibigo Yukgaejang) and MDS Korea.
2. Ginseng of the Sea, Abalone
Abalones are good for recovering from fatigue because they abound with minerals, calcium, protein, vitamins, and other healthy substances. For this reason, abalone is often called “the ginseng of the sea” and used throughout the world to recover physical strength.
Korea is surrounded by the sea on three sides so it can offer a variety of seafood including abalones. The subtle fragrance of the sea, chewiness, and safety of Korean abalones have earned them a good reputation among overseas consumers. The product is actively exported to Hong Kong, Japan, Southeast Asia, and other markets.
Koreans use the abalone in diverse ways. It is enjoyed fresh after trimming and made into steak (with butter and soy sauce). Jeonbokcho (abalone sauteed in soy sauce) is served in restaurants as a premium side dish and jeonbok-juk (abalone porridge) enjoys much popularity for its simple taste and pleasant combination of soft porridge and the chewiness of abalone. The abalone exporters include Chungsan Fisheries Co., Ltd., YJ Fisheries, and Wando Arafood.
3. In the Spotlight among Vegetarians, Kong-guksu
Kong-guksu is a dish of cold noodles in a chilled soybean puree. The puree is made by soaking white soybeans in water, and then boiling, skinning, and grinding them. Kong-guksu tastes sweet and is rich in nutrition. For this reason, it is a summer specialty for people who easily feel exhausted in the hot weather.
These days, the dish is gaining recognition with foreigners residing in Korea. Samuel Okyere, a Ghanaian television personality active in Korea, appeared on an entertainment program introducing savory foods and shared his experiences with the dish: “When I saw kong-guksu for the first time, I felt it smelled strange and did not want to try it. But it was a big mistake. Kong-guksu’s strengths are in its creaminess and strong taste of beans. It is a really cool dish.” He added, “My foreign friends in Korea recommend it to their friends overseas as a representative Korean summer tonic food. It also receives favorable evaluations from vegetarians.”
An instant kong-guksu product has been recently released. Kong-guksu Ramyeon (Ottogi Co., Ltd.) is ready in five minutes, just like other instant noodle products.
4. Cool and Refreshing, Chogye-guksu
Chogye-guksu is made by putting cold noodles in a chilled samgyetang broth, adding vinegar and mustard, and putting shredded chicken on top. The flavor is similar to the hot samgyetang but is more sour and refreshing thanks to the addition of vinegar, mustard, and vegetables. Chogye-guksu is considered helpful in reviving the appetite lost due to the summer heat.
5. Byword of Stamina, Grilled Eel
Eel is a byword of stamina food. In Korea, the fish is used to make various dishes―jangeo-gui (grilled eel), jangeo-jjim (steamed eel), jangeo-deopbap (rice topped with eel), and many more. Among them, jangeo-gui is the most popular. Children enjoy the eel grilled with a simple salt seasoning, while adults prefer the spicy gochujang (red pepper paste) or salty ganjang (soy sauce) seasonings.
6. Makes Even a Weak Cow Stronger, Octopus
Many old Korean books record the efficacies of octopus. Jasan eobo (The register of Heuksan fish) written in the early nineteenth century by Jeong Yak-jeon, for example, describes octopus as follows: “It can be eaten raw, in soup, or as jerky, and helps restore one’s energy. Feed three or four octopuses to a scraggy cow and the animal will soon become more robust.”
A popular octopus dish, yeonpotang (octopus soup) features a clean stock and soft octopus meat.
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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