Let’s celebrate! What to cook and eat on Korean New Year’s day – Korean New Year’s Day Food round-up!
Do you want to celebrate New Year’s day the Korean way? Then you are in the right place. I have collated 15+ recipes that are enjoyed on this special day right here.
But first of all. Let’s cover some basics.
When Is Korean New Year (Seollal, 설날)?
While most westerners celebrate New Year on January 1st, many Koreans celebrate it on Lunar New Year’s Day (also known as Chinese New Year’s Day).
In 2023, Korean New Year’s Day (Seollal, 설날) falls on January 22nd.
What Do Koreans Do On Korean New Year’s Day?
Korean new year’s day is probably the biggest national holiday in Korea.
Families and relatives get together to pay respect to their ancestors. They also eat a lot of food (see the collection below), play traditional Korean games, and give gifts to each other. As a child, my favorite part about New Year’s Day was getting gift money from all the relatives I met. 🙂
If you want to find out more about Korean New Year traditions, read this article.
How Do You Say ‘Happy New Year’ in Korean?
Saehae Bok Mani Badeuseyo (새해 복 많이 받으세요)!
Now that these basics are covered, let’s have a feast!
I hope you enjoy my recipes and have a happy and prosperous new year!
15+ Korean New Year Foods You Should Try
1. Tteokguk (떡국, Korean Rice Cake Soup)
Tteokguk is a traditional Korean soup eaten on Korean New Year’s Day to wish for good fortune and wealth for the coming year. The shape of the rice cakes resemble old-style Korean coins, so the soup has a symbolic meaning of riches and prosperity. (Get the recipe: Tteokguk)
2. Manduguk (만둣국, Korean Dumpling Soup)
Manduguk is an alternative to tteokguk in some parts of Korea (e.g. North Korea). My family makes a hybrid version of manduguk (aka tteok manduguk) by adding some rice cakes as well. This makes the soup even more filling. (Get the recipe: Mandu Guk)
3. Kimchi Mandu (김치만두, Kimchi Dumplings)
Many families make their own mandu (dumplings) to add to the soups mentioned above. My family’s version has always been kimchi pork mandu, and I have to say the zingy kimchi flavor goes so well with the meat. (Get the recipe: Kimchi Mandu)
4. Ge Matsal Jeon (게맛살전, Crab Stick Omelettes)
Jeon (전) is a Korean pancake that is traditionally served during festive Korean holidays. There are many types of jeon, but these heart-shaped crab jeon are one of the most trendy varieties. (Get the recipe: Crab Jeon)
5. Pyogo Beoseot-Jeon (표고버섯전, Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms)
Another popular jeon recipe. This one is packed with delicious and healthy protein! It’s savory and filling. (Get the recipe: Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms)
6. Hobak Jeon (호박전, Pan Fried Zucchini)
This pan fried Korean zucchini is a staple Korean side dish served during this festive season. It is very easy to make and has a savory and delicate flavor. (Get the recipe: Hobak Jeon)
7. Bindaettok (빈대떡, Mung Bean Pancake)
Bindaetteok, also called Bindae-tteok or Nokdu-jeon, is a Korean pancake made from mung beans. It has a savory and nutty taste and is often served as an ancestral rites food. (Get the recipe: Bindaetteok)
8. Sanjeok (산적, Meat and Vegetable Skewers)
Sanjeok is a Korean dish that is often served during celebratory occasions. It is made with thinly sliced meat and vegetables that are skewered on a small wooden stick (e.g. toothpick) and lightly covered with flour and dipped in an egg wash before being cooked on a frying pan.
It is popular because it’s colorful and has a good combination of tastes. You can customize it to your liking by adding or skipping certain ingredients. (Get the recipe: Sanjeok)
9. Bulgogi (불고기, Korean BBQ Beef)
I don’t know about other Korean families, but growing up, we always had bulgogi at our new year’s day breakfast table. Bulgogi is a sweet and savory Korean marinated beef often presented as Korean BBQ, but it makes an excellent side dish as well. (Get the recipe: Bulgogi)
10. Galbi Jjim (갈비찜, Korean Braised Short Ribs)
Galbi jjim is a Korean braised short rib dish that is supremely tender and delicious. It is coated with a sticky, salty, sweet, and nutty sauce that is very addictive! It is definitely a symbol of festivity. (Get the recipe: Galbi Jjim)
If you want to make galbi jjim more conveniently, check out my Instant Pot Galbi Jjim recipe.
11. Japchae (잡채, Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry)
Japchae is a traditional Korean dish made with glass noodles and mixed vegetables. It has a satisfying texture and amazing flavor! The dish is often served during festive occasions and is a popular appetizer and side dish. (Get the recipe: Japchae)
12. Samsaek Namul (삼색나물)
Samsaek Namul refers to three different types of side dishes consisting of vegetables, herbs, or edible greens. They are set up on the charye (차례) table, where you pay respect to your ancestors; Ancestral rites.
Although many people nowadays interpret “samsaek” as dishes of three colors, at first it meant three different types of side dishes, regardless of their color.
The most common combination of these three side dishes are Sigeumchi Namul (Korean Spinach Side Dish, green), Doraji Namul (Bellflower Root Side Dish, white), and Gosari Namul (fernbrake side dish, reddish brown). Though other types of side dishes such as Bean Sprout Salad, sautéed radish, or stir-fried shiitake mushrooms can be used instead.
One of the most important things to remember is that you don’t add green onions or garlic when making these side dishes for ancestral rites, as these ingredients are said to chase away the ancestors’ spirits. (Get the recipe: Korean Spinach Side Dish)
13. Kimchi (김치)
You can’t talk about one of the most important meals of the year without kimchi!
On New Year’s Day, you may see more kimchi than on other days, ranging from regular Napa Cabbage Kimchi, Baek Kimchi (white kimchi), Dongchimi (radish water kimchi) to Nabak Kimchi (spicy water kimchi).
Most of these kimchi are made in early winter months when the cabbage and radish are in their prime season. This makes the kimchi taste even better! (Get the recipe: Baek Kimchi)
14. Creamy Fruit Salad (과일 샐러드)
This fruit salad was a common dish on festive occasions when I was growing up. It usually consists of cubed apples, persimmons, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, peanuts, hard boiled quail’s eggs, and raisins. The salad is full of savory and sweet flavors. (Get the recipe: Creamy Fruit Salad)
15. Yaksik (약식, Korean Sweet Rice with Dried Fruit and Nuts)
Yaksik is a Korean sweet rice made with dried fruit, nuts, and honey. It is moderately sweet and has a sticky texture.
Officially, it is one of the foods you would eat on the first full moon of the lunar new year. But it is also often served during festive occasions, such as new year’s day, weddings, and 60th birthdays. (Get the recipe: Yaksik)
16. Sujeonggwa (수정과, Korean Cinnamon Punch)
Sujeonggwa is a popular dessert drink. It’s made with ginger, cinnamon, and some sugar, so it’s sweet and has a mild gingery taste. It’s known to help with digestion and make a perfect dessert for this special occasion. (Get the recipe: Sujeonggwa)
17. Sikhye (식혜, Korean Sweet Rice Drink)
Sikhye is another traditional Korean drink often enjoyed during the Korean festive holidays. It has a sweet flavor and unique nutty barley smell. Its also known to help with digestion. (Get the recipe: Sikhye)
(This post was originally published in February 2007 and republished in December 2022 with updated information.)
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