How Koreans Celebrate Summer
Summer is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, and it gets very hot in Korea! Dr. Tae Yun Kim grew up when there wasn’t any electricity in the rural areas, so no refrigeration, no air conditioning – the only way to cool off was at night, or if you were lucky enough to be near a river to enjoy some cold water.
So what is the secret for hot Korean summer days? You fight heat with heat! Traditionally, on the hottest days of the year, you eat piping hot food! Here is an example, which has chicken, vegetables and acorn noodles in a healthy broth made of dried shrimp, dried anchovies, garlic, ginger, onions and anchovy sauce. Top it with an egg and serve steaming hot!
A more traditional way is to serve Samgyetang, where you boil a very young, small chicken (per person), stuffed with rice, dates, ginseng, ginger, salt, and garlic, in a soup made of very special herbs and roots. You can get a Samgyetang package in any Korean grocery store.
If you have never tried eating hot food on a hot day – do it! You’ll be surprised how much this will help you, just remember that it’s not just any hot food – soups like the ones mentioned here should be eaten, not anything heavy. You will feel an incredible boost of energy, ready to face the heat of the day!
For those that aren’t quite ready for the heat treatment, there are many versions of delicious cold noodles! They are refreshing, invigorating and perk you up. Just look at this picture!
There are probably as many recipes for this as there are households. The basics are very similar though: you cut many vegetables and fruit in long thin stripes, such as cucumbers, onions, celery, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, apples, pears, strawberries….
Then you make a sauce that is sweet sour and consists of mostly lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar, freshly grated ginger, sometimes hot red pepper.
While you do this, you have your salted noodle cooking water boiling -cook noodles – Dr. Kim prefers acorn noodles because they are very diabetes friendly – just until almost al dente. Drain and soak in ice water, slightly rub them to get rid of excess starch. Make sure they are very cold before adding them to the salad part, and add them just before serving. You don’t want the noodles to be soggy!
So if they didn’t have any refrigeration or ice available in olden times Korea, how did they make this? Dr. Tae Yun Kim tells that back then they had cold well water, and used that to cool foods down. Some items could be submerged in the cold river water, or for more long term storage, summer or winter, they would dig holes in the ground and let the earth do it’s temperature control.
Dr. Tae Yun Kim just smiles when we complain about the heat. To her, it’s part of daily life!
“The power is in you, it is your personal choice what you do in your life!”