The hot season in Korea lasts four months and it’s not only hot but the humidity can be “muggy, oppressive, or miserable.” Savor the K-foods that will keep you cool.

Many people would think to avoid Seoul altogether in July when, on average, 25 days are muggy or worse. However, Koreans have developed a culture that, like them, thrives even in the heat.

The following Korean dishes are eaten in the summer and are a fun and tasty way to replenish your health and even enjoy the summer heat.

A Ryunique Dining Experience Fusing Japanese and French Cuisine With Korean Ingredients

Since its opening in 2011, the Seoul restaurant Ryunique has attracted wide attention and admiration in the Seoul dining scene.Through its modern hybrid cuisine, Ryunique has respectively won 27th and 79th place in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and the World’s 100 Best Restaurants. The mastermind behind the restaurant is Chef Ryu, a native Busan and son of a marine biologist.Having started his culinary career at the age of 22, Chef Ryu spent eight years traveling around the world, during which he trained in top-notch restaurants in Japan, Australia and the UK. His international experience is reflected in Ryunique’s hybrid fusion cuisine,which features elements from different culinary cultures with an emphasis on French and Japanese.The aptly named restaurant combines his name –“Ryu”– and “unique.”True to its title, his dazzling dishes enchant customers with something new, original and of course, delicious.Besides Ryunique, Chef Ryu also runs a bistro called Normal by Ryunique. Seoul Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie talked to Chef Ryu about his restaurant, Korean food culture, and future ambitions.

Samgyetang is a chicken soup made with a small, whole chicken and ginseng. It is an iconic summer dish in Korea. People eat this boiling hot soup to beat the heat and stay energized during the summer. It is especially popular during sambok, the three hottest days of summer; these days are based on the lunar calendar — chobok (beginning), jungbok (middle) and malbok (end). As the Korean saying goes, eating the hot soup is “fighting the heat with heat.”

Harmonizing different cultures through Korean royal court cuisine

Bok-Ryeo Han promotes popular interest in Chosun dynastic royal cuisine and has been appointed by UNESCO as a National Designated Intangible Cultural Treasure. She is the director of the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine and has won the official commendation of the Minister of Culture. She studied at the University of Seoul,as well as Korea University for Food Engineering, and earned her doctorate in Food and Nutrition at Myongji University. Following after Hwang Hye Sung, who is also a researcher in royal court cuisine, a National Intangible Cultural Asset of Importance, and most important of all, her mother, Bok-Ryeo Han continues to contribute to the cuisine’s reproduction and modernization. At the 2000 Inter-Korean Summit, 2006 APEC regular conference in Busan, and 2010 G-20 Summit in Seoul, she helped develop menus and provided support as a consultant. She also acted as a consultant for the Korean drama, Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace), which is about Korean royal cuisine. She stresses the importance of food in understanding other cultures, especially when the royal court cuisine has become a global phenomenon. She runs two restaurants, ‘Jihwaja’ and ‘Gungyeon,’ and currently offers cooking classes at the Institute for foreigners to participate in and promote Korean cuisine.

From Mountain Terrain to the Culinary Domain

Chef Akira Back comes from a background that spans South Korea, Japan and the U.S. and crosses the domains of baseball, snowboarding and cooking. Back was born in 1974 as Sung Ook Back in Seoul, Korea. He pursued his love for baseball at a young age by moving to Japan, where a family friend gave him the nickname “Akira,” as the Japanese name shares the same Chinese characters as “Ook.” In 1989, his father’s business took their family to the U.S., where his snowboarding career began at the age of 15 in Aspen, Colorado. He then spent seven years as a professional snowboarder, where he appeared in extreme sports movies and was featured in the top snowboarding publications. His career then took a new path after studying at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Colorado as a sushi prep cook at Kenichi in Aspen, followed by Austin, Texas and then as an opening chef in Kona, Hawaii. He continued his culinary education by studying under top celebrity chefs and industry leaders including Masaharu Morimoto and Brian Nagao. In 2003, he returned to Aspen as Executive Chef of Nobu. In 2008, he opened his first restaurant — Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge, Chef Akira Back at Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The restaurant’s Japanese cuisine has attracted various celebrity clientele including Taylor Swift, P!nk, Kelly Osbourne and Joe Jonas. He has appeared on television in the U.S. on Iron Chef America, The Today Show and The Best Thing I Ever Ate, as well as on South Korea onKBS’s Success Mentor. Chef Akira Back is now going international with Akira Back restaurants opening in New Delhi and Jakarta. Back took a few moments from his busy schedule to talk about his shift in careers and new projects with Seoul Journal.

Making Korean Food Simple

As the only participant to serve as chef, judge and challenger throughout the Iron Chef series, Judy Joo has made a name for herself in the culinary world. Having worked as Executive Chef at the Playboy Club, and host of the Cooking Channel’s new series, Korean Food Made Simple, Joo’s success has ranged from being the first woman to win Iron Chef UK, a judge on the Next Iron Chef, Iron Chef America, and a competitor in the Battle Iron Chef UK vs. Iron Chef America. She also regularly appears on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Best Thing I Ever Made, and Guy’s Grocery Games. In her interview with Seoul Journal, Joo discusses how she got her start as a chef, her favorite cuisines, and her upcoming projects.

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