For all you Korean drama fans out there, summer can only mean one thing: it’s finally binge-watching season. Whether you’re scrambling to finish immensely popular shows like Descendants of the Sun and Reply 1988, or if you’ve already seen those and are desperately waiting for the newest releases
(like me), it’s no secret that K-dramas involve food. Lots of good food. Here are a few of those delicious eats most often shown in our beloved programs. Is it too late to move to South Korea?
1. Banana Milk
What is thought to be a treat for children, banana milk still proves popular amongst adults and celebrities alike. Just look at the array of actors/actresses and singers endorsing this product. It’s not really milk made from bananas, it’s just banana-flavored.
If you’re lucky enough to live near an Asian supermarket, or if your local store is decked out with the best Asian snacks, don’t forget to snag a pack (or two, or five) of these the next time you go. They pair perfectly with a night of drama watching, whether it’s by yourself or with a few good friends.
What Korean drama doesn’t have ramen? Korean ramen is different than most ramen. The noodles are chewier, the broth is more flavorful and spicier, and it tastes best when you slurp it right from the lid of a pot. If you don’t get that reference, watch the hit drama Boys Over Flowers and you’ll know what I’m talking about. In the meantime, check out these amazing ramen hacks to hold you over until your next trip to the store.
What’s arguably the best street food in Korea, tteokbokki is considered the go-to comfort food of many. I don’t know how I’ve lived my life without this as a regular staple in my diet. These spicy rice cakes are filling, slightly sweet and it’s perfectly balanced by the subtle heat of the gochujang in the sauce. Next time you’re at a Korean restaurant, make sure you try some tteokbokki. Some places will even let you top it with cheese. What doesn’t taste better with cheese?
What is commonly mistaken as Japanese sushi is Korean kimbap. One of the differences compared to their Japanese counter-part is that kimbap usually contains ground beef and/or egg. It is often put in lunch boxes and taken to picnics, school, or even given as a present to one lucky boy/girlfriend. Kimbap is super easy to make and pretty hard to mess up, so if you’re having some friends over one day to watch the next episode of She Was Pretty, persuade them to help make some kimbap with you. I promise they won’t be disappointed.
A snack so popular it even has its own holiday? And it’s endorsed by famous kpop boy bands? Please take my money. Pepero are cookie-like sticks drenched in toppings like chocolate, strawberry, or almond. You might have seen Na Jung in Reply 1994 munch on these all the time, or you may have stumbled upon EXO’s advertisements for these tasty little treats. Either way, Pepero snacks are definitely on my bucket list to try once I visit Korea.
6. Fish-Shaped Bread
It’s part fish, it’s part dessert, so what really is this contraption? Fish-shaped bread, or bungeoppang in Korean is a sweet treat composed of a red bean paste filling encased in the softest, slightly crispy breading that happens to resemble a carp fish. You must have seen these multiple times in Reply 1988. This snack can also be snazzed up by adding ice cream, jam, or honey as a filling. How’s that for a snack?
7. Fish Cakes
To put it simply, these fish cakes can sometimes be an acquired taste. Nevertheless, this is right up there with tteokbokki in terms of street food popularity. We see fish cakes in so many dramas like Let’s Eat, and it’s even been on Runningman a few times (although that’s technically not a drama, but it’s just as entertaining).
An intermediate fusion between marshmallows and Little Debbie cakes, Chocopies are the perfect snack for those with a sweet tooth. Most recently featured in Descendants of the Sun, Chocopies have become a source of controversy between North and South Korea, as South Korea has reportedly air-dropped mounds of Chocopies to their neighbors up North. Who knew such a great snack could actually have such a story?
9. Fried Chicken
Who can forget the fried chicken and beer sensation that took Asia by storm after the premier of My Love from Another Star? It just goes to show that fried chicken can only be eaten with an accompanying a beer or two. South Korean fried chicken is also a bit different from its Western counterpart: It comes in a variety of sweet and spicy flavors, with toppings ranging from almonds and sesame seeds to chives. The best part? Many fried chicken places deliver at any time of day, so you’re guaranteed a quick fix for your late night chicken cravings.
10. Instant Coffee
Many Korean households and companies do not have coffee makers, so they must rely on these packets of life on the daily. If you’ve seen Misaeng, you know exactly what this is and how much coffee Koreans can consume. If not, remember to thank your coffee-maker the next time it prepares your morning cup of joe.
#SpoonTip: Use the empty plastic packaging as a handy stirring stick.
I like to compare Korean dramas to a dark, never-ending abyss: once you fall into them, there’s no getting out. Nevertheless, there’s always something to learn from binge-watching some great shows, and expanding our culinary palates is definitely one of them. The next time you get the chance to watch an episode or two, note all the scenes highlighting food and try every single one of them. You’d be surprised at the amount of new flavors and dishes you’ll try.