It is almost December 1st and that means one thing; it is almost time for the most wonderful season of the year. Christmas is seen to be a growing trend in South Korea, with friends gathering together while the family reunions happen in the New Year. However, the traditions to stem a lot further from the norm that we may know. During our search in UKP HQ, we have discovered three foodie facts and differences to get you prepared to celebrating Christmas with brand new traditions.
1. Goodbye Seasonal Trimmings
If you expect a turkey meal with cranberry sauce and stuffing, then you are harshly mistaken. Traditional meals are very hard to come by in South Korea and it is mainly BBQ or party buffets arranged for seasonal gatherings. In regards to mixed families or Korean families living abroad, Turkey may be substituted for “LA galbi” (beef short ribs) or Bibimbap as part of their own three course meal. However, if you cannot bear the fact of Christmas without Turkey, there may be a perfect alternative with Korean Glazed Turkey, courtesy of the Youtube channel, Asian At Home. This recipe will help you get the best of both worlds with a cultural twist on a traditional bird.
2. Sweet Treats
After the traditional gathering, room is always stored away for dessert depending on the situation. Sometimes, it may be a wide selection of treats including sugar candy or baesuk (steamed pears) or it may be a Christmas cake which can often be a steamed rice cake decorated with fruit. However, it can be a rare occurrence as this form of rice cake is usually made to celebrate a baby’s 100th day “birthday”. Another sweet alternative shared in its place may be a whipped cream cake, famously seen in Asian bakeries for its delicate decoration and filled to the brim with fruit.
3. Winter Snacks
Imagine walking down the streets of Hongdae during the festive countdown. With the winter chill in Korea travelling through fast, it is inevitable that warm snacks is the way to go for Christmas shopping or even for the rush to wrap up gifts. Street vendors and cooks alike already have this department covered with a wide selection of treats. Some cultural fans may recognise such snacks as fish-cake skewers through K-Dramas or movies but there is always more than the traditional savoury goods. Aside from the usual ddeokbokki, the most popular winter snack would be Hotteok, warm pancakes that are sold by multiple street vendors across Seoul. Fillings can differ from red bean paste, vanilla custard and Nutella so it is perfect for every taste to enjoy once the halls are fully decked.