July is monsoon season in Korea, meaning that for a few weeks, heavy rain all over Korea is expected. The sound of rain creates a calm and almost nostalgic atmosphere, so there are certain dishes in Korea that are known to be especially suitable for those drippy days (or maybe it’s just an excuse to eat something delicious).
Mung Bean Pancake/빈대떡 (Bindaetteok)
This traditional snack is made from ground mung beans, kimchi and various vegetables like green onions, peppers and sprouts, then fried into a thick and hearty pancake. They are cheap and you can buy them anywhere, especially where alcohol is served (see 3), or you can griddle them yourself. It is best served under a tent at a cheap market, hot and right off the pan!
Green Onion Pancake/ 파전 (Pajeon)
A traditional Korean pancake made with egg, flour and vegetables (although most commonly green onions). It is thinner and crispier than its stodgier mung bean brother (see above), but equally if not more flavorful. People say that the sound of raindrops tapping on windows sounds similar to the batter crackling in the frying pan. Others say that it is something about the chilly wet weather that makes them crave something fried and carb-loaded.
Rice Wine/막걸리 (Makgeolli)
A very popular traditional Korean liquor made from fermented rice or wheat with 6~8% alcohol content. Rice wine is known to be best paired with Korean traditional pancakes, so on rainy days people crave the rice wine and pancake combo, which is shortened to pamak (pajeon+makgeolli). Rice wine has a sweet and refreshing taste that is said to suit the soothing atmosphere that rain brings.
Mussel Soup/홍합탕 (Honghap-tang)
The steamy and mild milky broth is especially satisfying on cold drizzly days. Mussels have a mild salty flavor, reminiscent of the sea, so during monsoon season it is very fitting as the smell of rain and sea go well together. It is also said to be a nutritious way to keep colds at bay.
Rice Noodles/쌀국수 (Ssalguksu)
This dish mainly consists of chewy noodles made from rice, in a meaty hot brown broth with plenty of vegetables and herbs. The hot clean flavor and chewy texture is incredibly delicious when you want a pick me up on a cold day.
The satisfying sizzle of grilled pork is enough to warm you inside out. Grilled pork belly (삼겹살) is good on any day, but especially when it’s rainy, Korean barbecue is the ultimate decadent comfort food. If you listen to the rain and sizzling, coupled with a delicious meaty meal, you are in for a sensory overload.
Rain has romantic connotations, and sharing a hot brew with a loved one is said to be a lovely match. The scent of roasted coffee beans and wet moss somehow compliment each other and people say the flavor is deeper and richer.
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