Are there vegetarians in Korea

Seoul Food Guide - Korean Vegetarian Specials

Kimchi, Bulgogi, Gimpap & Co .: Korean cuisine has a lot to offer. Here I give you an overview of the local dishes, the best locations for foodies, information about cooking courses and tips for vegetarians and vegans (spoilers: they don't have it easy in Seoul).

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Food Tour The Soul of Seoul

The jet lag was still in my legs, but I wanted to get a first overview of them as soon as I arrived Food scene in Seoul procure. Guided tours are actually anathema to me, but they are Food tour from The Soul of Seoul sounded different. Sure, because tour guides are none other than Hallie and Vanessa from one of Korea's most successful lifestyle blogs. On Tuesday morning nobody but me had registered and so I had an exclusive tour with Hallie. She is American, came to Seoul about nine years ago as an English teacher, fell in love with a local and has been feeding and blogging through her adopted home since then - now even with a baby. At The Soul of Seoul you can choose between different tours, I decided on the market tour. The whole thing is quite informal and relaxed, you go to different stands, try something here and there, Hallie tells what she knows and has an answer to pretty much every question. Because of her Korean language skills, she has a stone in the board with the marrow women, not the worst if you want to linger a little longer than the Korean on lunch break who gulps down his soup and leaves. If you are in the mood for a first culinary impression of Seoul and you are still unsure what to try due to a lack of language skills, the food tour of The Soul of Seoul a helpful guide. Hallie knows where you can eat the best cold buckwheat soup, where you can get vegetarian food and where you can also buy cheap vintage clothes.
Traditional Market Experience
Duration 2 hours
Costs 50,000 Korean won (about € 38)

Kimchi everywhere

"A Kimchi a day keeps the doctor away" - at least that's what Miss Kimchi says, the American-Korean street food icon who introduced the Berliners to fermented chilli-garlic-cabbage. It's actually just a side dish, but it's ubiquitous and can safely be called a national dish. If you go out to eat in Korea, there is no way around the herb: in traditional as well as in modern Korean cuisine, but also in Mexicans, in fast food restaurants and even at hotel breakfasts, there is always kimchi somewhere. So when you're in Seoul, what could be more natural than learning kimchi in its place of origin? I have one with Claudi, who was also visiting Kimchi class visited. They are offered here on almost every corner, but it is important to read carefully what is actually on offer. Some courses are more about the show, but we wanted to learn kimchi preparation from scratch. You can do that in the Food & Culture Korea Academy not far from the “blue house”, as the presidential palace is popularly known. Not a bad choice: Photos testify to illustrious former students, including very own Martha Stewart, Korean President Park Geyn-Hye and countless soap stars. In the course I learn that kimchi is by no means as vegetarian as some in restaurants and markets would have led me to believe: in addition to a decent portion Fish sauce the cabbage is rubbed with a paste containing, among other things, crushed crabs and dried fish. And of course a lot of chili and a lot of garlic. At the end there is a certificate and the shrink-wrapped kimchi to take home with you. And a photo with the course instructor - by the way, you don't say "Cheese" when taking pictures, but, logically, "Kimchiiii"
By the way: Kimchi comes in many forms, you can not only prepare kimchi from cabbage but also from cucumber, leek or radish, the main thing is that it is fermenting. Every market has a wide variety of kimchi to buy, and there is even a kimchi museum and a kimchi making and sharing festival.
Berliners have it good: The aforementioned Miss Kimchi has a feel for trends and specializes in vegan kimchi. What our course instructor would put on the back of the neck is a real hit in Berlin. So much so that the street food stand has now even developed into its own restaurant.

By the way, on the Wunderlander blog you can find a super Recipe for kimchi, if you've got an appetite now!

Cabbage Kimchi Making Course
Duration approx. 2 hours
Costs Korean won 30,000 (approx. € 23)

Eat vegetarian or vegan in Seoul

First of all: vegetarian it’s not easy in Seoul. vegan even insanely difficult. In many traditional Korean restaurants there is hardly anything vegetarian, there is usually a complete lack of understanding of such a diet. Meat is ubiquitous and the main ingredient in most classic dishes. Even in the gimbap, the Korean version of sushi, a slice of ham is often rolled up. And even if you order a vegetable soup, which is actually sometimes available, you can assume that the broth was made from beef bones. The delicious dumplings are almost never available with a vegetarian filling - there is almost always some fish or meat in them. Even lovers of fresh vegetables and fruit would usually have to swallow first: this is often very expensive. In South Korea there are simply not many vegetables grown except garlic and cabbage, you need the space for rice, which takes up 80% of the agricultural area. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you should still not let the difficulties deter you from visiting Korea. As is so often the case, the Internet is enormously helpful here. In the Facebook group Seoul Veggie Club you can ask all questions and get competent answers, you can also quickly connect with like-minded people here, because picnics and potlucks are organized regularly. The Loving Hut chain offers vegetarian fast food, and you can eat vegetarian food in Buddhist temple restaurants, such as Sanchong in Insadong. If you prefer to cook yourself, you should definitely buy the fruits and vegetables at the market (and not in the supermarket). Seasonal fruits and vegetables are particularly cheap at smaller Kiez markets such as the Huam Market near Seoul Station.
You can find helpful information and the appropriate vocabulary in "A Guide to Being Vegetarian in South Korea."

Eat fish in Seoul

“They eat everything that can be got out of the sea” - this is my friend Christina’s conclusion after a year in Korea. She is not entirely wrong, because in every normal supermarket there are, for example, entire shelves with various types of algae. ("Kelp", by the way, also a kimchi ingredient). If you are as interested in fish as I am, you should check out the Noryangijn fish market not to be missed. A huge old hall with countless stalls selling everything imaginable. This is on the one hand familiar, like shrimp, tuna, mackerel, on the other hand strange, like jellyfish or “live octopus”, which is actually eaten alive. Nothing for me, but a selected delicacy for Koreans and some tourists. There are many small restaurants on the upper floors of the fish market that freshly prepare the fish you buy below. There are small carts on every corner in Seoul Fishcake, a kind of deep-fried fish soup that often also contains shrimp. The fish market and fishcake was personally recommended to me by Susan M. Choi. She is one half of the Berlin street food duo Mr. Susan and is jointly responsible for the (justified!) Hype of Korean cuisine in Berlin.
Noryangijn Fisheries Wholesale Market
Dongjak-gu, Seoul
General Fish Market open from 1:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., fish auction around 4:00 p.m.

Seoul in Berlin

Are you hungry & thirsty now and would you like to get on the next plane? I would be happy if you too would like to discover the culinary diversity of Korea. If that's a bit too far for you at the moment, there is now a very good selection of Korean food in Berlin, for example on Street Food Thursday. If you'd rather lend a hand: Lauren Lee alias Fräulein Kimchi regularly offers cooking courses in Korean fusion cuisine at Goldhahn & Sampson.