Korea

3 Spicy Soups from Korea

Korea has a range of spicy soups and stews that you will grow to love 감자탕 (Pork back-bone stew), 순두부찌개 (Soft Tofu Stew) and even during your all-night partying of Gangnam or Hongdae, the infamous 해장국 (Hangover Soup).

One thing that got me to love soups (except for Jamaican soup) more were from Korean culture. Maybe it’s the extra addition of 고춧가루 (Gochugaru・Chilli Pepper Flakes) to some of the meals that change it for the better. Here are a few of my favourite spicy soups or stews that I would recommend you to try in Korea.

육개장 (Yukgaejang・Spicy Beef Soup)

Yukgaejang is my favourite full stop! The first two times I tried this at Ganggangsullae (강강술래) in Hongdae, I had a big hangover and then I was sick. And I’m sure both times, cured me. Yukgaejang has a range of spices that you are going to love tasting inside the stew along with the beef brisket. The beef brisket is one of the best meats that mixes well with the spice and the combination of both changed my whole opinion of Korean soups in general. The chilli powder, gochujang, chilli oil and also gochugaru make up all the flavours that mix together and bring about this amazing soup.

김치찌개 (Kimchi Jjigae・Kimchi Stew)

A most classic, right? When you think of other popular Korean food, this is one of them. It’s most people’s favourite spicy soup but it’s nothing as deadly as the yukgaejang in my opinion. The taste of kimchi is inevitable and tastes delicious with the tofu, we all know that. The gochujang mixed with kimchi and anchovy simmers down the spice you expect. I always feel that kimchijjigae can be a hit or miss because I’ve had more that has been weaker in taste. However kimchijjigae is easy to find anywhere and for all my vegan readers, the one from 오세계향 (Oh Se Gae Hyang) in Insadong is very delicious.

뚝배기 불고기 (Ttukbaegi Bulgogi・Bulgogi with Vegetable Stew)

This one took me by surprise because it was from a small Busan restaurant and I didn’t expect it to have spice in it. I thought Ttukbaegi Bulgogi was only local to Busan but I found out you can get this anywhere. If you’re curious, the restaurant is open 24 hours and is very near the Haeundae beach (it’s named 우뚝해장국 감자탕 해운대 or Odduk Haejangguk Kamjatang Haeundae), right next to the Obok restaurant. So put it simply, it’s a bulgogi stew. But there are bits of gochugaru and chilli pepper powder in the stew and the restaurant ahjumma gave me more chillies and kimchi on the side to add in. To be honest, it was a nice change and something new I discovered in Korea that I have grown to love and it’s also filled with mushrooms, carrots, scallions and radish to contemplate the spice. And of course, bulgogi.

These three soups are all guaranteed to warm up your body and can be easily found in most restaurants in Korea. Please let me know out of these three, which have you tried and is there any other spicy soups in Korea you would recommend, I would love to hear!