Week 17: Food in South Korea

Hello Everyone!

I decided to focus this blog of food in South Korea and some of the struggles people with specific diets may have in South Korea.

First on the list is gluten-free diets. Being gluten-free is not common in South Korea. Often times when you are allergic to gluten you have to be willing to explain your allergy, as most Koreans are unfamiliar with it. Now, food is not really difficult to find if you are gluten-free. Korea has a large amount of rice and meat-based dishes. They also have many noodle-based dishes that do not use regular flour, such as glass noodles. One of my favorite dishes to recommend if you are gluten free in Korea, but really like noodles, is Japchae. Japchae, which is common as both a dish and side dish in Korea, are sweat potato glass noodles. Very good and perfectly safe for a gluten free diet!

The second diet is vegetarians. Being a vegetarian can be a bit difficult in South Korea. The country has a large meat culture, and therefore, vegetarians are not very common amongst Koreans. I have a couple of international friends who had to add some time of meat or fish to their diet in order to live more comfortably in Korea. However, for someone who does not want to do that, there are certainly things you can eat that are meat free. Two of my recommendations are Tofu Stew and Buddhist cuisine.

Buddhist cuisine did have some seafood as side dishes, but they are optional so do not be afraid!

The next diet I wish to talk about is vegans. This is probably the most difficult diet someone coming to Korea can have. Many Korean food, while it may not contain meat directly, it will contain some sort of animal product: most popular being eggs. For vegans, I definitely recommend the Tofu Stew mentioned above as well as Bokkeumbap (a spicier fried rice). However, every place is different so some places may serve it with an egg on top. You may have to ask in advance if it does or not.

And last, but certainly not least, pescatarians. This is definitely an easy diet to maintain in South Korea. I highly recommend Busan for anyone who is pescatarian, as it is known for their seafood cuisine. Two very popular Korean dishes, and very easy to find, can be great for someone who only eats fish. The two options are Tteokbokki and Jjamppong. Tteokbokki is the famous Korean rice cakes that often include ramyun and fish cakes when you are eating them at a restaurant. Jjamppong are a dish on the Korean-Chinese restaurant menu and are very delicious seafood noodles. Both foods can be spicy but also very tasty.

As an ending note, I would like to mention my favorite side dish that everyone can eat! While Korea has many different kinds of kimchi and many different side dishes, my favorite by far is kimchi cucumber. You will usually only get it served in a restaurant in the summer here in Korea, but it is very good, and I highly recommend it to people who like cucumbers.

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