Cold or hot? This is the question Koreans ask themselves when selecting what food to eat during summer. But what about non-Koreans? Four foreign Korea.net writers -- Sarah Oqelee from Egypt, Elena Kubitzki from Germany, Elias Molina from Costa Rica and Xu Aiying from China -- recommend their favorite Korean summer dishes.
Aiying: I've apparently lost my appetite nowadays because of the hot and humid summer.
Elena: How can you? Korea has so much delicious food in summer.
Aiying: I was surfing social media and came across a recipe for cold ramyeon (instant noodles). I tried it and it was great. The New York Times recently named Shin Ramyun Black Noodle Soup the world's best instant noodles. But Korean ramyeon is delicious no matter how you eat it.
Elena, Elias: Cold ramyeon? That sounds weird. Ramyeon is meant to be eaten hot.
Aiying: I initially thought it was weird, too. But it's rather crispy. Slicing and adding Cheongyang chili pepper makes it more delectable.
Elena: Really? I love eating mukbap (rice with buckwheat jelly in cold broth) during summer in Korea.
Aiying: Does Germany also have cold rice dishes?
Elena: German cuisine has no cold noodles or rice. This is why it was a totally new experience when I first tried it. Adding toppings such as vegetables, putting kimchi with the muk (buckwheat jelly), and mixing it with rice make it refreshing and delicious.
Elias: Where can I eat mukbap?
Elena: I first tried it at a traditional market but these days, precooked and packaged versions are widely available at convenience stores or major discount marts. I sometimes purchase muk and the broth and add vegetables to it.
Sarah: Talking about summer food has me craving subakhwachae (watermelon punch).
Aiying: Watermelon! The watermelons these days are really sweet and delicious.
Sarah: Similarly in Egypt, we put honey or sugar on fruit and have something similar to subak hwachae.
Aiying: Really? There are so many ways to make subak hwachae in Korea. You can add soda, milk and fruit. What would you add?
Sarah: I like the ones with a lot of fruit such as kiwi and pineapple. And I simply love iced coffee in Korea; it's something we don't have in Egypt.
Elias: It's so hot in Egypt. People there don't drink iced coffee?
Sarah: People in Egypt drink mostly hot coffee even during summer. But many Koreans live in Egypt these days, and many iced coffee cafes have sprung up in Koreatowns there. So some Egyptians are starting to like drinking their coffee cold.
Elena: Yes. coffee in Europe is mostly drunk hot, too. I've lived in Korea for so long that when I visited Germany last year, I expected to find iced coffee. But other than at Starbucks, it was difficult to find iced coffee at cafes.
Elias: Costa Ricans often consume cold drinks but never cold food.
Sarah: Really? What foods do you like in summer in Korea then?
Elias: Samgyetang (ginseng chicken stew).
Aiying, Elena: Wow, you've turned Korean after living in the country for more than a decade. But isn't samgyetang too hot to eat in summer? We prefer cooler foods such as naengmyeon (cold noodles) and kongguksu (noodles in cold soybean soup).
Elias: Samgyetang is hot but rejuvenating when eaten in summer. We Costa Ricans find chicken broth quite healthy, and so we eat it whenever we're sick. Samgyetang has a whole chicken in it, so it's quite healthy.
Aiying: Does Costa Rica have dishes similar to samgyetang?
Elias: We have a variety of chicken soups, and the simpler the cooking process is, the better. So samgyetang is the perfect summer dish for me.
Aiying: Malbok (the last day of the year's hottest period) is coming. We should go eat samgyetang.
Elias: Of course.