Traditional Jeju Food
Local food in Jeju
Galchiguk (Hairtail fish soup)
Galchi-hobakguk (pumpkin-hairtail fish soup) is prepared by adding together ripe pumpkin, green hot peppers and cabbages, a little garlic and some soy sauce after fresh–caught hairtail fish is roughly chopped and put into a boiling pot of water. For the fullest flavor, it should be eaten still slightly hot with some fine hot-pepper powder sprinkled on top. The silvery hairtail is caught beginning in September to October. The full flavor of the fish reaches its peak in winter. Hairtail fish, with its chewy white flesh, leaves an excellent aftertaste. In hairtail fish soup, the fish is placed into water and boiled with pumpkin and vegetables making it even tastier. Hairtail fish soup boiled with thinned-out cabbage instead of pumpkin is also delicious.
Kkwong-toryeom (Sliced pheasant meat boiled lightly with vegetables) and Kkwong-memil guksu (Buckwheat noodles with pheasant meat)
Since there are many pheasants on Jeju Island, there are many different foods made with pheasant. Pheasant in autumn is regarded as a real treat and it can also be eaten as a type of raw meat or as a jerky. ‘Kkwong-toryeom’ is eaten in a hot-pot style by thinly slicing the heart of pheasant. ‘Kkwong-memil guksu’ mingles Jeju buckwheat noodles and pheasant stock to create a special flavor. ‘Kkwong-memil guksu’ is seasoned with a variety of sauces after Jeju buckwheat noodles are boiled in pheasant stock. The buckwheat creates a light and easily digested meal. Since pheasant dumpling soup is not greasy, the taste is sure to please.
Jarihoe (raw damselfish) and Jarimulhoe (raw damselfish in chilled -broth)
Damselfish is a saltwater fish that represents the taste of Jeju. It is a well-known food on the summer menus of Jeju Island. Jari is a kind of sea bream also called Jaridom and is the size of a crucian carp, which is a saltwater fish rich in calcium. It is caught by net in the seas close to the island from May to August. ‘Jarimulhoe’ is a nourishing food rich in fat, protein and calcium, and can be eaten in a variety of styles such as raw in chilled broth, raw with boiled celery, pickled, roasted with salt, and boiled. Since ‘Jarimulhoe’ does not have a fishy smell and is refreshing and tasty, it is the most popular dish with the people of Jeju during the summer season.
Okdom-gui (Broiled sea bream)
With a lean and light taste, whoever eats Okdom once will want to try it again. Okdom is a kind of sea bream that is caught only along the coast of Jeju Island and in the seas close to Japan. On Jeju it is known as ‘Saengseon’ or ‘Sollany’. After the Okdom is caught during November to March season, it is spread wide and allowed to dry in half in the sunshine, Okdom paste broiled with sesame oil has an excellent flavor. Since Okdom has a high nutritive value and is a rich source of protein, people with low energy or patients under recovery from illness eat it frequently as a type of porridge.
Saengseonhoe (Raw fish)
Sea bream, abalone, conch, sea urchin, sea slug, octopus, cuttlefish, and sea squirt are kinds of fish used in serving raw fish and some of best flavors can be tasted on Jeju. Among them, sea bream is the best for serving as a raw dish. Gatdom is found in the deep sea and lives on animals such as abalone and conch. Therefore, while its flesh is firm, it is expensive compared with other kinds of sea bream. Many people, therefore, use yellow sea bream in raw fish dishes, even though it is not superior to Gatdom. This is a kind of fish that lives on seaweed, and it has reddish scales on a yellow base. The unique light, sweet and chewy taste of this fish will be enjoyed by everyone.
Seonggeguk (Sea urchin soup)
Sea urchin is caught in the seas of Jeju from the end of May to June. The sea urchin that is native to Jeju is the purple sea urchin, which has a yellow flesh that can be seen when its shell is broken. Since it is sweet in taste and rich in vitamins and iron, it is good as a health food. On Jeju, it is called ‘Gusal’; sea urchin soup is known as Gusal soup. After the sea urchin has been lightly parched with brown seaweed and sesame oil, it is boiled with small abalone called Onbunjagi to make a soup. Sea urchin eggs add a yellow color to the broth, and it thickens like uncurdled bean curds to its final light taste.
Jeonbokjuk (Rice porridge with abalone)
Abalone, which is the most expensive yet the most tasty among the summer shellfish, was eagerly sought by the First Emperor Chin in ancient China, who considered it a source of eternal youth. As abalone has been famous on Jeju since ancient times, it was often presented as a gift to the king. Since abalone is easily absorbed, it is well known as a nutritive food for the health of the old and the sick. After abalone is thinly sliced and lightly parched with sesame oil, it is boiled as porridge with rice soaked in water. It then becomes Jeonbokjuk. The white soup and its ingredients mingle together to become a light and tasty dish.
Momguk (Gulfweed soup)
Mom was originally a kind of sea duckweed belonging to the family of gulfweed under brown algae, which is commonly called Mojaban. Its length is around 1-3m, and it has many branches. It can be found stuck to rocks through its roots or bottom stems. Soft Mojaban is utilized as food, and is commonly eaten on Jeju with a seasoning of soybean paste or mixed with kimchi. It can also be eaten as a soup with sliced Welsh onion, boiled pork bones and sour kimchi; the taste of the kimchi and the seaweed mingle to give a unique taste that dominates the meat broth. An original taste of Jeju can be enjoyed if it is eaten with well-ripened and salted anchovies and seasoned spring vegetables or kimchi with the smell of fresh greens, as side dishes.
Bingddeok (Bing rice cake)
This is known as Bingddeok because it is a rice cake that is made by rolling the dough ‘bing bing’ (round and round). After fine buckwheat powder has been kneaded thinly to prepare round dough, radishes, Welsh onions, salt, sesame powder, and sesame oil are mixed evenly to prepare a filling, and it is placed over a grill. If it is rolled around, it becomes a Bing rice cake. Bing rice cake is eaten from the hand. It is an excellent appetizer when served with a cup of clear rice wine brewed with hulled millet.
Haemul-ttukbaegi (Seafood hot pot)
On Jeju, surrounded on all four sides by the sea, there are a wide variety of foods prepared with fresh seafood. Among them, seafood hot pot is one of the foods which Jeju people are fond of eating because it is delicious and relatively cheap. It is similar to a hot pot made with soybean paste. It is prepared with a variety of fresh seafood such as small abalone called Obunjagi, eggs of sea urchin, squid, and shrimp, and with vegetables such as bean curd, crown daisy and Welsh onion. It is seasoned with soybean paste. The broth made from the boiled seafood retains the smell of the sea, and its refreshing taste is excellent owing to the flavor of the soybean paste.
Obunjagi Kettle Rice
Seventy percent of the Korean production of Obunjagi is from Jeju. Obunjagi belongs to the family of abalone. It is highly nutritious and an excellent health food. The production of Obunjagi in Korea is decreasing. Obunjagi Kettle Rice is a native Jeju delicacy made with Obunjagi, young abalone and ‘Pyogo’ mushrooms mixed together. It has a unique, fresh and crunchy texture. Obunjagi Kettle Rice, a healthy dish, is cooked with barley, beans and Obunjagi mixed with bone and meat broth. The secret of the taste lies in the properly proportioned amounts of spices, soy sauce and margarine. The wonderful smell of the dish arouses the appetite of everyone around. In addition, ‘Haemul Stone Kettle Rice (Seafood Stone Kettle Rice) is another delicacy of Jeju.
Black Pig Bulgogi Dish
Almost every household raised pigs in the old days and it was a custom to serve guests pork. Pork produced in Jeju was unique in taste because of its preparation. The pork was smoked over burning hay so that the flavor of the hay could penetrate the meat. Jeju’s native pigs are covered in black hair so that they were called black pigs. The meat is chewy and nutritious, but does not have the unique smell of pork. The taste is preferable to other pork. Bulgogi (grilled pork) with spices or as a raw dish with soy sauce has a nice, mild flavor. The more you eat, the nicer the unique taste becomes.
Samgyetang (Chicken broth with spices and ginseng)
The meat of Jeju’s native chicken is tender and chewy so that everyone can enjoy it. The flavor of the boiled chicken with spices and various ingredients in a thick meat soup cannot be beaten. Baeksuk, made with ‘chicken hot pot' and a variety of ingredients, is loved by every one who visits Jeju.
Hanchimulhoe(sliced raw fish)
It is recommended that those who first try a ‘mulhoe’ dish should start with ‘hanchimulhoe’. Hanchimulhoe is chewy and unique in taste that people who visit Jeju can’t miss it. It is very popilar among Jeju citizens and visitors as well. Hanchimulhoe dishes with fresh vegetables and sweet icy meat soup taste a little sour and bland. People who escape heat in hot summer love ‘Hanchimulhoe’ very much. It is good for recovering from hangover. Summer is the peak season for catching ‘Hanchi’. So, the fresh sliced ‘Hanchimulhoe’ dishes are one of the best of summer delicacies.
Seasoned Mackerel Dish
There are a variety of types of raw mackerel dishes to enjoy on Jeju. Seasoned mackerel dishes do not have a fishy smell thanks to the spicy ingredients. The mild taste of mackerel is unique and is loved both by citizens and visitors as well.The mackerel is sliced about 4 cm thick after being seasoned with salt. When seasoned, radish is added to neutralize the fish, which is an acidic food, and to balance the nutrients in the dish.
Black Pork Dish
Back in the olden days, pigpens were built right below the bathroom. It is said that the Jeju pigs, which grew up eating human waste, grew black hair as a result of their special diet. Pigs are no longer raised in this way, but the Jeju black pig is still seen as one of Jeju’s trademarks and it said to be chewier and more delicious than other types of pork. The distinctive black hairs can even be seen on some of the meat used in pork dishes.