The Popularity of Fried Chicken and Beer in Korea
What are two menu items present at almost every American social or family gathering? That’s right either fried chicken or beer!
We know that fried chicken and beer are extremely popular in North America but did you know it is just as popular, or maybe even more so, in South Korea? The combination of chicken and beer has been a part of North American social gatherings forever. Getting together to watch sports games, weekend summer bbqs, and after work outings almost always involves fried chicken and beer.
How it all Started
What arguably set the trend for the popularity of fried chicken and beer in South Korea, otherwise known as “chimaek” was a Korean tv series “ My Love From Another Star” where the star’s favorite food on the show was fried chicken and beer. Since the show’s airing, the market and demand for fried chicken and beer has shot up exponentially as South Koreans have been binge eating fried chicken and drinking beer.
“Chimaek” (pronounced “chi-mek”) is the compound word for chicken and beer. “Chi” for chicken and “maek” for maekju, a South Korean word for beer, has literally taken over South Korean dining culture. There are approximately 50,000 fried chicken restaurants in South Korea and the number does not seem to be slowing down. There are so many fried chicken restaurants that serve beer with this highly popular meal that South Korea had to adopt regulations to limit the number of restaurants opening on the same block.
Korean fried chicken is “crispier” than traditional American fried chicken as it is fried twice. There is no one way to prepare or serve this highly popular dish in South Korea but there are common elements to making South Korean fried chicken. These include onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, flour, sugar, and lemon.
Chickens in Korea are notably smaller than their North American counterparts so when frying, the whole chicken is used. After the chicken is fried, it is then seasoned and served cut into small pieces. There is the option to serve the fried chicken plain or lightly coated with a sticky sauce. But don’t expect the typical pairings to South Korean fried chicken to be the same as in America which is often served with raw carrots and celery with a side of blue cheese. Fried chicken in South Korea is normally served with just beer as the only side.
Whichever restaurant or street vendor you choose, be sure to try a little “Seoul food” to feel like a local in Korea.