Abhilasha Rawat, Pune, Maharashtra
Known to celebrate important birthdays like the first birthday, the 60th, 70th and 80th birthdays; the Korean people love to have big feasts and numerous delicacies! Are you wondering what kind of dishes do the South Korean people enjoy eating on their birthdays? From traditional meals to quick snacks and cakes, these are 6 popular dishes Korean people eat on their birthdays:
Seaweed Soup (Miyeokguk)
“Did you have seaweed soup?” We’ve all heard idols read this question during their birthday lives. The seaweed soup, also known as the “birthday soup”, is a traditional birthday meal in South Korea. This light and healthy soup is predominantly made with wakame or sea mustard. Soy sauce, garlic and roasted sesame oil are used to add flavor to the broth. Non-vegetarian people can also add beef or fish to the soup. Traditionally, the South Korean women used to have seaweed soup for 1 month after giving birth, as it is believed to be rich in iron and calcium. So having seaweed soup on birthday is a way for people to remember and appreciate their mothers; and the pain they went through to bring them into this world.
From weddings to birthdays, Japchae is a must-eat dish on special occasions. A combination of the words 잡 (to mix, stir) and 채 (vegetables), Japchae has its origins in ancient Korea as the slaughter of animals was prohibited. Made with Korean sweet potato, starch noodles or glass noodles, vegetables, eggs and a hint of soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil; Japchae is a commonly eaten meal on such occassions. The classic vegatables used in Japchae are carrots, spinach, mushrooms, onions, and scallions, while some other options are bell peppers, garlic chives, and cucumbers. It is a dish that can be served both cold and hot!
Since some people have started preferring western cakes, rice cakes are being made to adapt to the taste of the current generation. Shaping and condensing rice into a cake mold, these cakes are filled with honey, red bean paste and many other flavors! Mujigae-tteok or Rainbow Rice Cake is one of the most popular rice cakes in South Korea to consume on birthdays. Culturally, it is believed that till a child turns 5 or 6 years old, red bean rice cake should be served on their birthday as it repels bad spirits. Korean people also believe that the birthday person will have more luck when the rice cakes are shared with more people.
Beef and Radish Soup (Soegogi-muguk)
Not as popular for a birthday dish as seaweed soup; beef and radish soup is more known in the northern regions of South Korea. Served in the morning, this soup has beef brisket, daikon or mu (radish), fish sauce, and green onions. With its mild and soothing flavor, Beef and Radish Soup is comforting, especially during winter. This soup is enjoyed by both the children and the elderly!
Blowing up on social media due to its size and aesthetic appeal, Bento cake boxes or lunch cake boxes are very popular in South Korea. These are miniature cakes, around 3-4 inches in diameter, that are easy to carry and customize. It has all the ingredients that are used to make a simple cake, but has bright and colourful icing as decoration. From tiaras to fruits and chocolates, many items are used to make the cake feel more personal.
Choco Pie Cake
Often prepared by middle and high school students for their friends’ birthdays, Choco Pie cake is an on-budget cake. A Choco Pie consists of two small round layers of chocolate-covered cake and a marshmallow filling. Stacking up pieces of Choco Pie over each other, students top the cake off with fruits, chocolates or lollipops. Another method of making a Choco Pie Cake is to put all the Choco Pie pieces in a plastic bag and break them until it turns into a giant dough.
So, these were some of the many dishes that the Korean people love to eat on their birthdays. Which Korean birthday food would you like to have on your birthday? Tell us about it in the comments below.