When you ask Koreans what the best food to eat with soju is, you’ll likely get a different answer every time. Soju is a classic Korean alcoholic beverage that pretty much goes down well with everything and anything.
However, certain foods simply hit the spot better than others. Because of how clean, light and refreshing soju tastes, foods that are heavier or oil based will taste especially good after you cleanse your palate with a shot of soju.
When you watch Korean dramas, it seems that every meal that they have is washed down with soju and yet they make all the food they eat look just so delicious!
In reality, Koreans definitely make some smart choices when it comes to Soju food pairing.
Soju Food Pairing – 10 Foods That Go Well With Soju
Here’s our list of the 10 best dishes that you can eat while sipping your Korean Soju:
- Samgyupsal Grilled Pork Belly
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Ojingeochae (Shredded Dried Squid)
- Jokbal (Boiled Pork Trotters)
- Grilled Shellfish (Jogae Gui)
- Maeuntang (Spicy Fish Stew)
- Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake)
- Budae Jjigae
- Korean Instant Ramen
1. Samgyupsal (Grilled Pork Belly)
Korean BBQ meat is a no-brainer. With the smokiness of the charcoal and heavy textures of the meat, soju washes the food down like water – it’s amazing.
However, samgyupsal just, as they say, hits differently.
Korean grilled pork belly can be eaten in two styles: thicker cuts or thinner cuts. However, once grilled, they’re normally chopped into bite size pieces that pair perfectly with lettuce, garlic and chilli, kimchi, ssamjang (dipping sauce), and of course, soju!
The greasiness of the fat on the pork belly is easily washed away with the soju taste, and thus you’re ready for the next round again!
If you don’t have access to a Korean restaurant, you can simply purchase pork belly from your local butcher and grill it at home.
2. Korean Fried Chicken
Korean fried chicken is a staple in the Korean diet, just like soju!
Whilst Korean fried chicken is normally paired with beer, soju also does the job just as well spectacularly. The heavy oily textures of the fried chicken go well with the refreshing taste of the soju.
This is likely a personal preference, but we reckon the deep-fried versions of the dish taste better with soju than the softer, saucy versions.
Korean fried chicken restaurants are popping up all around the world, so you’ll likely be able to find one close to where you live now!
3. Shredded Dried Squid
Shredded dried squid is an absolute essential if you’re thinking about bunkering down for the night with bottles and bottles of soju.
As arguably the most popular ‘anju’ (or Korean drinking snack), you will likely find dried squid on all tables during a late night on the weekend at bars and restaurants.
It’s a super salty, super chewy type of food that is as much of a palette experience as it is a chewing experience. People don’t just eat it for the taste, they eat it to chew on something tough whilst having deep conversations over soju!
You can find dried squid at most Asian supermarkets. Whilst they may not all be the exact type that Koreans eat, they’ll all do a similar job!
Read More: The 10 Best Soju Flavors You Should Try
4. Jokbal (Boiled Pork Trotters)
We can’t write a blog post about soju food pairing without mentioning jokbal!
Indeed, jokbal is a quintessential Korean dish that’s typically eaten with soju. It is essentially pork trotters that are boiled in soy sauce and other seasonings.
Whilst it may not sound appealing to many people, it’s actually quite an experience! The pork trotter is served hot and tender, and you’re meant to eat it holding it with just your hand and biting straight into it
5. Grilled Shellfish (Jogae Gui)
In Korea, when you travel to a seaside village, it is essential that you eat at an open-air restaurant near the beach that sells grilled shellfish. You also need to pair it with some soju for the ultimate experience.
That’s what Koreans do! A typical Korean getaway would be to get out of the city and wind down somewhere near the beach, just to eat one’s weight in grilled shellfish.
Of course, we’re not all lucky enough to be holidaying in Korea right now, so you can simply purchase shellfish from your local seafood market, take it home and grill it with some soju shots waiting on the side!
Read More: How To Drink Soju | Complete Guide
Anyone who’s into K-pop and K-drama will know what ttaekbokki is.
This famous spicy red fish cake snack is eaten in almost every drama and is widely available along almost every street in Korea via a street snack cart.
Ttaekbokki and soju is one of the easiest meals you can have whilst catching up with friends whilst in Korea. The spiciness of the rice cakes is welcomed alongside the refreshing taste of the soju.
In most places around the world these days, you can purchase DIY ttaekbokki packets to make at home. They either come as separate rice cake and sauce packages, or you can get smaller, individual sized ttaekbokki servings already made that just require some heating up.
7. Maeuntang (Spicy Fish Stew)
Maeuntang is a spicy fish stew that is super popular with soju in Korea. It’s a stew that’s got the unique taste and smell of chrysanthemum!
It pairs perfectly with soju, with its strong overpowering taste and soju’s ability to cut through the heaviness of it.
You can actually see a scene in the K-drama ‘Fight For My Way’ (featuring Park Seo Joon and Kim Ji-Won), where Ae-Ra’s dad runs a restaurant that serves maeuntang with soju!
8. Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake)
Seafood pancake is one of the most popular Korean dishes, and its tastiness and greasiness goes so well with soju.
If you haven’t had it before, haemul pajeon is a savory seafood pancake that’s made with chopped up pieces of seafood and spring onion, and is served with a tangy dipping sauce.
It usually comes out quite oily, and so is enjoyable to eat in between soju shots.
9. Budae Jjigae
Budaejjigae is a spicy Korean army stew, and it’s the ultimate winter comfort food. It’s hot pot of stew that’s filled with all sorts of goodness, such as spam, rice cakes, mushrooms, sausage, ramen noodles, and much more!
On a cold winter’s night, this stew paired with soju will send you straight to heaven.
Budaejjigae can also be easily made at home. Many supermarkets will sell pre-made stock, where you simply add some of the necessary spices.
Prep the stew in a pot, add the ingredients, pop the soju bottles, and you’re set!
10. Korean Instant Ramen
Lastly, are you after a no-frills soju experience? Instant ramen is the way to go!
Many people in Korea who want to have a little drink of soju but don’t want to have to go out to a proper restaurant can still have an enjoyable soju experience.
They can easily head to their local convenience store, make their own ramen (yep, most convenience stores in Korea will have their own ramen-making station), and sit outside with a bottle of soju.
You may have seen this in K-dramas before, where friends get together and get drunk over multiple bottles of soju, only to be chased away when they become a hindrance by the store owner!
Read More: How much Soju to get drunk?
I hope you enjoyed this article about Soju food pairing! You can experience soju in all these wonderful ways whilst in Korea or simply just back at home. Soju is an incredibly versatile drink and many people praise it for its easy and fun taste.
With the food culture surrounding soju, you may actually never get bored of drinking it! Why not try all of these food pairings to see which one is your favourite?