Why Soju and K-food are perfect for the holiday season

If you’ve ever watched a Korean film or drama, there’s always that scene—a family or a group of friends gathering together on a table while drinking soju and feasting on favorite and traditional Korean food whether there’s an occasion or a simple get-together.

Seeing how they are eating happily while getting drunk, sharing stories with each other and laughing, it makes you wonder what the experience would be like to be part of that table—that kind of festivity.

So if you’re looking for something special and different to share with your family for the holiday season gathering, why not try serving Korean cuisine this year. And instead of your usual red wine, be experimental with your palette and partner your food with soju or the so-called “Korean vodka.”

A versatile distilled spirit

Soju being a low-alcohol spirit is described as a cross between hard liquor and wine, so it seems like the perfect fit for the holiday season—not too strong, not too bland—just the ideal for moderate drinkers who don’t want to get wasted during a family festivity.

The experience of drinking soju is also distinctive for its interactive nature—you pour a glass to a friend of yours and your friend pours you back a glass, you toast, drink and repeat.

Consumed traditionally in shots, the way of drinking soju is a large part of Korean social customs, so try to replicate the same traditions with your family and friends; more so when you’re drinking with older people—by receiving and pouring for them with two hands.

With its milky flavor and faintly sweet taste, it works well with other spirits and can even substitute whiskey, vodka and gin in classic cocktails to create unique drinking experiences.  This is something that’s really good to try this holiday season just in time for your family and friends to have a taste for something new.

Make an impression with Korean party food

This year, trade your usual holiday party food for something diverse, colorful, spicy, sweet, crunchy, tangy, and savory. With many dishes to choose from, you can’t go wrong with Korean cuisine when it comes to serving them whether that’s a simple lunch or dinner or bigger Christmas and New Year celebrations.

For appetizers, instead of your usual pasta on the table, swap it with japchae—Korea’s most famous noodle dish is a stir-fried glass noodles known for its sweet and savory taste. Add to your festive menu a new way of eating dumplings with bibim mandu (sweet and spicy potsticker salad) that’s served with fresh salad and an addictive spicy-and-sweet dressing.

Other great appetizers come in the form of pancakes, but unlike your normal pancakes. Serve kimchi pancakes especially to guests who are new to it, while seafood pancakes will be a hit with seafood lovers. Kids and kids-at-heart will surely like finger foods like the sweet chili sauce-infused Korean friend chicken and Korean fish cake balls.

For your main dish, skip the turkey and try out any of these tender and delicious Korean barbecue dishes: bulgogi; bbq short ribs; spicy pork; baked bbq ribs; and roast pork. As for your rice, there’s the ubiquitous bibimbap—rice, meat, and vegetables all in one and top off with bibimbap sauce—you’re sure to impress anyone with its nice presentation.

And for those who may not want to go heavy on rice, there’s kimbap for you with varieties of either inari rice rolls or bulgogi rice rolls.

Side dishes always accompany a great meal, and for Korean food, there’s fresh kimchi salad for first-timers who don’t want its strong smell; spicy cucumber salad and spicy coleslaw for guests who like sweet and tangy; and pickled carrots and daikon radish for the ones who like burgers, sandwiches, and barbecue.

And for drinks, offer your guests a dessert drink and a fruit-based tea like cinnamon punch—famous for its sweet and mild ginger taste and plum tea—best served in ice with its pungent, fruity but sweet combination that even helps with digestion.

Whichever of these dishes you try this festive season, you’ll surely spark your guests’ attention for trying something different in which everyone can share and create new moments with their unique holiday dining experiences.

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