Korea is not only known for its famous Kpop and Kdrama series, but also because of their food – the first country that most people associate with Ramyun, Samgyeupsal, and of course Soju is most probably Korea. Soju and other alcoholic beverages play a huge role in Korean social culture, which is why they are one of Asia’s largest per capita alcohol consumers, and why they came up with savoury dishes that are perfect for when you are feeling the alcohol’s lingering effects.
Koreans call hangovers 해장 (Haejang), and the most common types of food that they turn to when they have it are either steamed rice or a bowl of 라면 (ramyun). Even if you are not in Korea, here are 6 of the best soups that could help cure a dreadful hangover after a night of soju.
콩나물 국 (Kongnamul-Guk) (Beansprout soup)
While most people think dishes made out of vegetable broths are inferior, take this one differently. This dish might appear to be the most simple one on this list, but Koreans consider this as a top-favourite hangover cure; even by non-vegetarians!
Traditionally, the dish is served in an earthenware bowl or ttukbaegi which is filled with beansprouts, tofu, and chives. The bowl is then topped with a serving of kimchi, a freshly-cracked egg, green onions, and of course a bowl of rice. While some variations turn to boiled anchovies to obtain a stock before the other ingredients are added in, you can take some liberties and season it with fermented shrimp to get an extra umami flavour.
So why exactly do Koreans think beansprouts are effective hangover cures? It’s because they are rich in aspartate which is known to counter the lingering toxins that alcohol has left behind in your liver and body. Should you not be a fan of spicy foods, you can definitely find one that is mild.
곰탕 (Gomtang) and 갈비탕 (Galbitang) (Beef-based soup)
For fans of beef soups, gomtang and galbitang is an alternative dish that you can turn to when you’re hungover. Even though both dishes are similar in the fact that they are full of protein and are mainly made with a beef soup base, gomtang is a soup that has slices of beef while galbitang uses beef off the bone.
Regardless of which one you choose to go with, they are both known to turn your hangover around. And because these dishes have clear soups, they are also refreshing and often consumed alongside a bowl of hot white rice.
짬뽕 [Jjamppong (Spicy seafood noodles)]
If you have been following Korean cuisine for a while (or watch Kdramas), you have probably heard of jjampong, which is a Korean-Chinese dish of spicy noodles served in a seafood-based soup. So if you prefer noodles over rice and soup when you are hungover, give this one a go.
While there isn’t any available scientific study that proves jjampong as an effecting remedy for a hangover, the basic belief that spice is an effective cure for hangovers is what drives most Koreans to turn to this dish.
뼈해장국 (Bbyeo haejang-guk) or 감자탕 (Gamjatang) (Pork spine soup)
For long-time lovers of pork bone broth, they would most likely consider bbyeo haejang-guk as their go-to hangover soup. With a name that literally means “bone hangover soup”, some Koreans probably know this dish as gamjatang. Consisting of thick chunks of pork spine and leafy vegetables that are simmered until the broth has a rich and spicy taste, you would probably love this dish even without a hangover. Complete with crushed perilla seeds and a bowl of rice, bbyeo haejang-guk is perfect for either breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.
복국 [Bok-guk (Pufferfish soup)]
Most people stay away from food that lists pufferfish as a primary ingredient because it contains toxins. But in Korea, pufferfish is practically safe to eat, provided that it is handled and prepared properly. Bok-guk is a dish that has two variations, bok-jiri and maeuntang, and is known to be a refreshing version of the rice and soup combo. The dish’s price, however, is more on the pricey side since only a licensed chef can prepare and serve this dish in Korea.
If you are a fan of spicy broth, you are sure to enjoy maeuntang which will awaken your senses! But if you aren’t feeling spicy dishes, have a go with bok-jiri which contains a variety of seasonal vegetables paired with water celery, radish, and beansprouts.
견뎌바 [Gyeondo bar (Hangover ice cream)]
When you are in Korea, you’d be surprised to know that they have an ice cream that is good for curing hangovers. When you are looking for a dessert to cleanse your palate after helping yourself to a savoury bowl of soup or ramyun, find yourself a gyeondo bar should you happen to chance upon a convenience store – this popsicle treat was made as a cheaper alternative to cure hangovers since it contains 0.7% oriental raisin tree fruit juice, known to decompose alcohol within your system.
Yes, you can just opt directly for oriental raisin tree fruit tea, but some people find it too bitter for their liking, while others aren’t a fan of its strong and earthy taste. But in gyeondo bar, the added sugar dampens its natural flavour, making for a tasty and affordable treat!
For a country that has a variety of fine drinks and cuisine, you can easily find yourself with a hangover after a night of socializing. If you had one too many drinks the night before, try ordering one of these dishes that we have on this list – you’ll thank yourself for doing so.
If you are planning to learn some Korean phrases that can help you when you visit the country, or want to better understand the dynamic and vibrant culture, you should consider signing up for a Korean language course in Singapore! At Sejong Korean Language School, we offer a plethora of courses for different proficiency levels. Book your first class with us and find yourself easily communicating and understanding Korean in no time!