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South Korean Christmas Food: Traditional Dishes and Modern Twists

South Korean Christmas Food: Traditional Dishes and Modern Twists

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If you’re visiting South Korea during the holiday season, you might be wondering what kind of food to expect on Christmas Day. While Christmas isn’t a traditional Korean holiday, it has become increasingly popular in recent years, and many Koreans celebrate it with their own unique twist. South Korean Christmas food is a fusion of traditional Korean flavors and Western holiday dishes, resulting in a culinary experience that’s both familiar and exciting.

South Korean Christmas Food Cover Image

One of the most popular South Korean Christmas dishes is fried chicken, which has become a holiday staple in recent years. Koreans love their fried chicken all year round, but it’s especially popular during the holiday season.


Many restaurants offer special holiday-themed chicken dishes, such as chicken topped with cranberry sauce or served with a side of stuffing. If you’re a fan of spicy food, be sure to try the yangnyeom chicken, which is coated in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang (Korean chili paste).

Another popular South Korean Christmas dish is roast beef, which is often served with a side of roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes. While roast beef might not be a traditional Korean dish, it’s a popular choice for holiday meals in many Western countries, and it has become increasingly common in South Korea as well.

If you’re looking for a more traditional Korean dish, you might want to try the galbi-jjim, which is a braised beef short rib dish that’s slow-cooked in a sweet and savory sauce. Whatever your taste preferences, there’s sure to be a South Korean Christmas dish that will satisfy your cravings.

History of Christmas in South Korea

Christmas is not a traditional holiday in South Korea, but it has gained popularity in recent years. The country has a rich history of religion and culture, and Christmas is no exception.

The first introduction of Christmas to South Korea was in the late 19th century when Christian missionaries from the United States and Europe arrived in the country. They brought with them the Christian faith, which included the celebration of Christmas.

In the early days, Christmas was mainly celebrated by Christians in South Korea. However, over time, the holiday has become more secular and is now celebrated by people of all religions.

In 1945, after World War II, South Korea was liberated from Japan, and the country became more open to Western culture. This led to the spread of Christmas traditions, such as the exchange of gifts and the decoration of Christmas trees.

Today, Christmas is celebrated as a national holiday in South Korea, and it is a time for families to come together and enjoy each other’s company. It is also a time for couples to celebrate their love, as Christmas is seen as a romantic holiday in South Korea.

While Christmas is not a traditional holiday in South Korea, it has become an important part of the country’s culture. It is a time for people to come together, celebrate, and enjoy the festive season.

Traditional South Korean Christmas Foods

If you’re celebrating Christmas in South Korea, you might be wondering what kind of traditional foods you can enjoy during the holiday season. South Korean Christmas foods are a unique blend of traditional Korean dishes and Western-style holiday fare. Here are some of the most popular traditional South Korean Christmas foods.

Kimchi

Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine, and it’s no different during the Christmas season. Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish that is spicy and tangy. It’s usually made with cabbage, but there are many different varieties of kimchi, including radish, cucumber, and scallion. Kimchi is often served as a side dish, but it can also be used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as kimchi fried rice.

Bulgogi

Bulgogi is a Korean-style grilled beef dish that is marinated in a sweet and savory sauce. It’s a popular dish during the Christmas season, and it’s often served with rice and other side dishes. Bulgogi can also be made with chicken or pork, and it’s a great option for those who don’t eat beef.

Japchae

Japchae is a Korean noodle dish that is made with sweet potato noodles and a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, spinach, and mushrooms. It’s a popular dish during the Christmas season, and it’s often served as a side dish or a main course. Japchae is a vegetarian dish, but it can also be made with beef or pork.

Tteokguk

Tteokguk is a traditional Korean soup that is made with sliced rice cakes, beef broth, and various toppings like egg and seaweed. It’s a popular dish during the New Year’s holiday, but some families also serve it on Christmas Day. Tteokguk is believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year, and it’s a delicious and comforting dish that is perfect for the cold winter months.

Overall, South Korean Christmas foods are a unique and delicious blend of traditional Korean dishes and Western-style holiday fare. Whether you’re a fan of spicy kimchi, sweet and savory bulgogi, or comforting tteokguk, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during the holiday season in South Korea.

South Korean Christmas Food Bulgogi

Modern South Korean Christmas Foods

If you’re celebrating Christmas in South Korea, you’ll find that the holiday has a unique twist when it comes to food. While traditional Korean dishes are still enjoyed, many modern South Korean families have adopted some Western Christmas foods as well. Here are two popular modern South Korean Christmas foods:

Christmas Cake

One modern South Korean Christmas food that has become increasingly popular is the Christmas cake. These cakes are usually sponge cakes with whipped cream frosting and decorated with strawberries, raspberries, and other fruits. They are often served on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a dessert or a centerpiece for the holiday table.

If you’re in South Korea during the Christmas season, you’ll find Christmas cakes for sale in bakeries and supermarkets. You can also order them online or from a bakery in advance. The cakes come in a variety of sizes and designs, from small single-layer cakes to large multi-layered cakes with intricate designs.

Chicken

Another modern South Korean Christmas food that has gained popularity in recent years is fried chicken. While fried chicken is a popular food in South Korea year-round, it has become a staple for Christmas Eve dinner. Many South Koreans order fried chicken from their favorite restaurant or fast food chain and enjoy it with family and friends.

In fact, fried chicken has become so popular during the Christmas season that many fast food chains and restaurants offer special Christmas-themed chicken dishes, such as chicken with cranberry sauce or chicken with stuffing. Some even offer Christmas-themed packaging for their chicken orders.

Overall, modern South Korean Christmas foods offer a unique blend of traditional Korean dishes and Western Christmas foods. Whether you’re enjoying a Christmas cake or a bucket of fried chicken, you’re sure to have a delicious and memorable holiday meal.

South Korean Christmas Food chicken

Christmas Food Preparation and Recipes

If you’re looking to add some South Korean flair to your Christmas feast this year, you’re in luck! South Korea has a variety of traditional dishes that are perfect for the holiday season. Here are some popular recipes to try out:

Kimchi Recipe

Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine and is a must-have for any holiday meal. This spicy and tangy dish is made from fermented vegetables, usually cabbage, and is packed with probiotics and vitamins. Here’s a simple recipe to make your own kimchi:

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of Napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup of gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 knob of ginger, minced
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Instructions:

  1. Cut the cabbage into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle salt over the cabbage and toss to coat evenly. Let sit for 2 hours.
  3. Rinse the cabbage thoroughly and drain well.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the fish sauce, gochugaru, sugar, garlic, ginger, and green onions.
  5. Add the cabbage to the mixture and toss to coat evenly.
  6. Pack the kimchi tightly into a jar and let ferment at room temperature for 1-2 days before refrigerating.

Bulgogi Recipe

Bulgogi is a popular Korean dish that consists of marinated beef that is grilled or stir-fried. It’s a great option for a main course during the holiday season. Here’s a recipe to try:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of beef sirloin, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, gochujang, and black pepper.
  2. Add the beef, onion, and green onions to the bowl and toss to coat evenly.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Heat a grill or skillet over high heat and cook the beef in batches until browned and cooked through.
  5. Serve hot with rice and vegetables.

Japchae Recipe

Japchae is a popular Korean noodle dish that is often served as a side dish during holiday meals. It’s made with sweet potato noodles and a variety of vegetables. Here’s a recipe to try:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of sweet potato noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces of spinach
  • 4 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Cook the sweet potato noodles according to the package instructions and rinse under cold water.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic.
  3. Add the cooked noodles, carrot, onion, spinach, mushrooms, and green onions to the bowl and toss to coat evenly.
  4. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and serve cold.

Tteokguk Recipe

Tteokguk is a traditional Korean soup that is often eaten during the Lunar New Year but is also a popular dish during the holiday season. It’s made with sliced rice cakes and beef broth. Here’s a recipe to try:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of sliced rice cakes
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, bring the beef broth to a boil.
  2. Add the sliced rice cakes, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil to the pot and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Slowly pour in the beaten egg while stirring the soup.
  4. Serve hot with green onions sprinkled on top.

Christmas Cake Recipe

Christmas cake is a popular dessert in South Korea and is often made with a sponge cake base and decorated with whipped cream and fruit. Here

South Korean Christmas Food Japchae

Role of Food in South Korean Christmas Celebrations

Food plays an essential role in South Korean Christmas celebrations. While the holiday is not traditionally a religious one in Korea, it is still celebrated with enthusiasm and joy. Families and friends gather to share meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Traditional Christmas Foods

South Koreans have their own unique take on Christmas food, blending traditional Korean dishes with Western influences. The most popular Christmas dish in Korea is probably fried chicken, which is often enjoyed with beer. It has become so popular that many fast-food chains offer special Christmas-themed fried chicken meals during the holiday season.

Another popular dish is the Christmas cake, which is usually a sponge cake decorated with whipped cream and strawberries. In recent years, more elaborate cakes with intricate designs and decorations have become popular as well.

Fusion Foods

South Koreans are known for their love of fusion foods, and Christmas is no exception. Many restaurants and cafes offer special Christmas-themed dishes that blend Korean and Western flavors. For example, you might find a bibimbap (a traditional Korean rice dish) with a Christmas twist, such as added cranberries and chestnuts.

Gift-Giving Foods

In South Korea, food is often given as a gift during the holiday season. Popular gift-giving foods include boxes of fruit, Korean traditional sweets like rice cakes, and premium cuts of meat like beef or pork. These gifts are often beautifully packaged and presented, making them a popular choice for both personal and corporate gifts.

Overall, food is an integral part of South Korean Christmas celebrations. Whether it’s enjoying traditional dishes with family and friends, trying out new fusion foods, or giving food as a gift, there are many ways to incorporate food into your holiday celebrations in Korea.

South Korean Christmas Food bibimbap

Final Thoughts

South Korean Christmas food is a unique blend of traditional Korean dishes and Western holiday favorites. During the holiday season, many families in South Korea gather together and enjoy a variety of dishes, including Korean barbecue, rice cake soup, and fried chicken.

If you’re looking to experience South Korean Christmas food, there are many restaurants and street vendors that offer traditional dishes. You can also try making some of these dishes at home using recipes found online or in Korean cookbooks.

Remember that while food is an important part of the holiday season, it’s also important to spend time with loved ones and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas in South Korea or elsewhere in the world, take the time to appreciate the traditions and customs that make the holiday season special.

So, go ahead and enjoy the delicious food, but also take a moment to reflect on the meaning of the holiday season and the importance of spending time with family and friends. Happy holidays!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some traditional Christmas foods in South Korea?

Unlike in Western countries, South Korea does not have a set of traditional Christmas foods. However, in recent years, fried chicken and pizza have become popular Christmas Eve dinners. On Christmas Day, Korean families may enjoy traditional Korean dishes like rice cake soup and barbecue.

How does South Korea celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is not a national holiday in South Korea, but it is still widely celebrated. Many people decorate their homes and streets with lights and Christmas trees. Churches hold special services, and there are often Christmas concerts and festivals.

What are some popular Korean Christmas desserts?

One popular Korean Christmas dessert is strawberry cream cake. Another popular dessert is a sweet rice cake called “songpyeon,” which is often filled with sweet fillings like honey, sesame seeds, and chestnuts.

What are some unique Korean Christmas decorations?

Korean Christmas decorations often incorporate traditional Korean elements, such as paper lanterns and hanbok-inspired ornaments. Many Korean families also hang “bojagi,” which are colorful Korean wrapping cloths, as decorations.

What are some Korean Christmas movies to watch?

If you’re looking for a heartwarming Christmas movie, “My Love, Don’t Cross That River” is a popular Korean film that tells the story of an elderly couple’s enduring love. Another option is the romantic comedy “Love Actually,” which has gained a following in South Korea.

Where are the best places to spend Christmas in South Korea?

If you’re looking for a festive atmosphere, Seoul is the place to be. The city is full of Christmas lights and decorations, and there are many Christmas markets and festivals to enjoy. Other popular destinations include Busan, which hosts a Christmas tree festival, and Jeju Island, which has a beautiful winter landscape.

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