What would the holiday season be without food? At Chuseok, tables overflow with delicious treats. Visitors to Seoul can try many Chuseok treats at restaurants
and holidays festivals in Seoul.
Korean BBQ such as galbi (grilled beef ribs) and samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) is popular in Korea and the world over. Korean BBQ is beloved in Korea, but on holidays such as Chuseok, galbi jjim (braised short ribs) is often served as part of the holiday meal. Galbi jjim is a classic holiday dish that's as tasty as it is filling. The cooking method for galbi jjim is somewhat similar to Western-style stews. Beef ribs are cooked in a large pot over a low flame with soy sauce, vegetables, and seasonings. Galbi jjim is cooked for hours, which allows the soy sauce and seasonings to infuse the beef and vegetables with a deep flavor. Galbi jjim has a distinct sweet and savory profile that is similar to grilled galbi. Though most locals will be enjoying galbi jjim at home during the holidays, tourists can dine at one of the capital's many galbi jjim restaurants and have their own Seoul holiday meal.
Japchae (stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables) is a perfect complement to a holiday meal. Japchase is served on birthdays and special occasions and it's a favorite dish of many Koreans and non-Koreans alike. Japchae is made by stir-frying glass noodles, beef, and generous portions of vegetables. Glass noodles turn clear when cooked (hence the name) and they're known for their chewiness. When combined with savory beef and seasoned vegetables, it makes for an unbeatable combination. Diners may be familar with japchae as a banchan (side dish); small servings of japchae are sometimes offered as a side dish in restaurants. Visitors to Seoul can enjoy japchae at traditional markets like Gwangjang Market as well as at the many restaurants where it's served as banchan.
Jeon (savory pancakes) are served at meals on holidays and other special occasions, but they're so delicious and easy to prepare that jeon are quite often served in everyday meals too. There is no limit to the variety of jeon that can be found in Korean food, but some of the most common jeon at Chuseok are sausage, squash, seafood, and pepper. Jeon are made by coating vegetables and other ingredients in a light flour batter, then frying them until done. At Chuseok, families will labor in the kitchen and make large quantities of various jeon for everyone to enjoy. Travelers can try jeon at food stalls, traditional markets like Tongin Market, and restaurants.
Namul (seasoned vegetables) are a staple of any Chuseok meal. There is a huge variety of namul that are used in Korean cuisine, but there are three namul that are most commonly cooked. Spinach, doraji namul (seasoned bellflower roots), and gosari namul (seasoned bracken) can be found in most Korean households at mealtimes as well as many restaurants as banchan (side dishes). They're tasty on their own, mixed with rice, or as a side dish to an entree like galbi jjim. Namul are typically lightly seasoned, then cooked or used as ingredients in other dishes such as soups and stir-fries. Visitors can purchase and taste namul at traditional markets, restaurants, and large supermarkets all over the city.
Sikhye is a traditional rice-based drink that is sweet and refreshing. Typically served cold and enjoyed as a non-alcoholic digestif, sikhye comes with floating rice grains and is usually garnished with pine nuts and dried jujubes. The traditional way to drink sikhye is from a bowl, rather than a glass. Many Korean families will serve sikhye at Chuseok in this fashion. Though sikhye is a popular autumn drink, it can be found in many places in Seoul. Visitors to Seoul who want to try sikhye can stop by a cafe or a jjimjilbang (Korean spa). Fans of K-dramas may be familiar with sikhye as it often makes an appearance on TV shows in scenes filmed at jjimjilbang. Have a taste of this typical holiday drink during a visit to Seoul!