Enjoying the Bounty of Spring

Authored By:

CIEE Seoul

While Korea offers excellent food all year round, and Seoul has delicious dishes from around the world, spring is one of the best times of year because of the wonderful variety of spring specialties.  After a long, cold, dry winter, the spring season brings delicious tender shoots and leaves that find their way onto people's plates.  This often means steaming or gently stir-frying vegetables, or lightly dressing them as salads so that every bite of spring comes through.  While Korean food is famous for its fermentation and preservation techniques, spring is beloved for the change it traditionally brings to people's diets.

There are many famous Korean foods, from fried chicken to stir-fried rice cakes in sweet and spicy sauces. Among the most beloved of these is bibimbap, a mix of fresh vegetables, a mildly spicy red sauce made from fermented Korean peppers, and delicious rice.  Spring brings tender greens back into the diet, and is an especially great addition to the mixed rice, and its one of many student's favorites.  Not only do fresh greens like spinach, angelica shoots, mugwort, wild garlic, and shepherd's purse bring nutrition, their bright color and bold flavors bring new life to the foods of the season, taking center stage when folded into steamed rice for bibimbap or gently simmered in a soup to accompany it.  Our students here in Seoul can find them in the food in the cafeteria, at restaurants around campus, or learn to use them through cooking classes as cultural activities!

An important spring holiday is Buddha's Birthday.  On this day, many of our students visit Buddhist temples not just to see the buildings beautifully decorated with glowing lanterns, but also to enjoy a sample of Korean temple cuisine.  As part of the celebrations, many temples serve bibimbap, lotus leaf-wrapped rice, or other tempting dishes to visitors for free. This vegetarian tradition is one of the best ways to enjoy the special tastes of spring, so don't miss out on a chance to try the most delicious foods of spring!

What foods do you want to try as part of your study abroad experience?