Seollal Food

Mingi Woo

Upcoming this week is one of the largest Korean Holidays, Seollal (Lunar New Year). Similar to Thanksgiving in the United States, it’s a celebration that brings the family together to enjoy food and hold ancestral rites. You can find more information about Seollal in one of our blog posts, but in this post, we are going to look at in detail what food Koreans eat during Seollal.

Tteok-guk (떡국)

During the new year, it is essential for a Korean to eat Tteok-guk during Seollal, since the act of eating Tteok-guk represents becoming one year older. You might wonder, what is in Tteok-guk? “Tteok” in Tteok-guk means rice cake and “guk” means soup, so the direct translation of Tteok-guk is rice cake soup. To look at the dish in detail, the soup is usually beef broth based with slices of a long rice cake called garae-tteok (가래떡). The long rice cake symbolizes longevity and the circular sides when cut symbolizes wealth.

Jeon (전)

Jeons or most widely known as Korean pancakes are usually eaten on a rainy afternoon but are also an essential part of Seollal cuisine. There are various types of Jeon each using different ingredients like seafood, zucchini, tofu, mung bean(녹두), etc. Most of these Jeons are covered in egg batters and shallowed fired on a hot skillet/frying pan. When they turn nice and golden, they are served with soy sauce-based sauce on the side.

Hangwa (한과)

Hangwa are traditional Korean sweet and chewy snacks which are commonly seen during Seollal. There are various types of Hangwa, but the most notable Hangwa is Yugwa(유과). The puffiness of the Yugwa almost resembles that of a cheese puff. Yugwa is made by frying glutinous rice and coating it with honey and coated with sesame seeds or puffed rice. The combination of the rice and honey gives it that unique chewy texture.

Sikhye (식혜)

Sikhye is by far my favorite drink of all time. Sikhye is a traditional Korean rice beverage, which is usually served as dessert. Sikhye is prepared by pouring malt water into cooked rice and boiled. While Sikhye is boiled the sweetness is saturated making the need to add sugar minimal. This drink also pairs well with Hangwa.

These were just some of the foods that we eat during Seollal and if you wish to try some, try visiting your nearest Korean traditional market called Jaelae Sijiang(재래시장). All of these foods will be available during the holiday without the need of making them yourself.

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