Top vacation destinations in the world are known not only for their tourist attractions and natural wonders, but also for the local delicacies that may not be found elsewhere in the world. The island of Jeju-do in South Korea is no exception. The local foods and traditional dishes will surely not disappoint those looking for a unique taste trip, as eating and drinking in Jeju-do promises to be a one-of-a-kind culinary and cultural experience.
Your list of what to do in Jeju-do Korea should definitely include tasting the island’s local delicacies. And since this is an Asian island, expect to savor some of the finest tasting seafood recipes in the region. Some of the best catches are mackerel, abalone, hairtail fish and tilefish. Abalone porridge was traditionally served to royal families. The dish is called “jeonbokjuk” (“abalone porridge”) and today visitors to Jeju-do may sample a taste of this savory royal cuisine. Abalone meat is sliced and lightly fried with sesame oil and water soaked rice.
Another truly popular and exotic island dish is sea urchin soup, locally known as “seonggeguk” or “gusal”. The yellow flesh of the urchin is scraped and boiled to a soup, garnished with seaweed. This uniquely Jeju-do soup is rich in vitamins, protein and iron, and is very tasty. A similarly exotic soup is “momguk” or gulfweed soup boiled in pork broth. This is popular in traditional markets and island banquets.
For those who think boiled sea urchin flesh is too adventurous, “okdom-gui” may just be the perfect dish. “Okdom-gui” is deliciously grilled pink tilefish, cut in half, dried and marinated in sesame oil. Okdom or pink tilefish may not be as tasty as abalone but this dish is well known in the island as ritual or holiday food since the fish is not caught anywhere else in the Korean Peninsula. It is native to the tropical waters of Western Pacific Ocean.
Other than seafood meals, also unique in Jeju-do is a pork dish made from native black pigs. It is said that in olden times, pigpens were built beneath the bathroom so that the pigs fed on human wastes. This unsanitary diet supposedly made the pigs grow black hair. Island pigs are not raised this way any longer yet their hair is still black and black pork dish remains a trademark Jeju-do dish. Black pork is chewier and more delicious. Some cooks intentionally include strands of black hair to let people see that black pork was used. Horsemeat is also a popular delicacy.
Overall, Jeju-do food is mainly composed of saltwater fish, vegetables, seaweed, rice, and of course, kimchi. Koreans would not enjoy a meal as much as they would without kimchi. Saltwater fish is usually cooked into soups, while pork and chicken into sliced boiled meat or “pyeonyuk”. Typical Jeju food is rather salty. The island is also rich with citrus fruits and a variety of vegetables.
There are a number of first-class restaurants in Jeju-do, as well as much simpler food joints all over the island but mostly in Jeju City and Seogwipo. You won’t run out of ideas thinking about what to do in Jeju-do Korea. Exotic and uniquely Jeju-do dishes are everywhere. Meanwhile, tourists who are craving for Western foods and beer might want to check out Gecko’s on Saekdal-dong, Seogwipo.