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Must-try food on Jeju

Jeju is an island of food. Don’t miss out on trying these tasty treats during your trip.

Jeju Black Pork

The food scene on Jeju has expanded massively over the last ten years or so. You can now get high-quality food from all over the world on the island.

But if your coming to Jeju for a short period, you should be sure to make the most of the food the island is known for. And Jeju has plenty of specialty dishes that, while you may be able to get in other parts of Korea, are best tried on the island.

Here is some of the best Jeju food to look out for during your trip.

Black pork barbecue

Black Pork Street
Photo: The entrance to Jeju’s Black Pork Street

If there’s one Jeju food you eat on Jeju, make it black pork barbecue. While black pork is served on Jeju in multiple ways, barbecue is the quintessential Korean eating experience. The meat comes from pigs with black skin and fur, although the color of the meat is basically the same as regular pork.

It’s grilled on a hot barbecue in the center of your table and you it’s typically served alongside side dishes, soup, and rice. To make of the most of the pork, grab a lettuce leaf and wrap the meat in the lead alongside some Samjjang dipping sauce to create a tasty wrap.

Gogi guksu noodles

Gogi guksu
Photo: Gogi guksu from gugsu madang on Jeju’s Noodle Culture Street

Gogi guksu is pork noodle soup. It’s similar to kalguksu noodle soup, except with the addition of Jeju black pork. The broth is savory and satisfying, while the steamed pork that is added to the dish is delicate and falls apart as you eat it.

Galchi

Galchi (cutlassfish) is a Jeju delicacy. These long, silver fish are either grilled and then served alongside side dishes, or cooked whole in a spicy broth. Whichever option you choose, the sheer length of the fish makes it a sight for the senses.

Abalone

Abalone is a favorite shellfish and those produced on the island are freshest. The fish is served in many ways. Whole, grilled abalone is the best way to enjoy the flavor and meatiness of the shellfish. Other options include abalone juk, which is a rice porridge made with abalone stock and chopped-up pieces of the shellfish, and abalone bibimbap.

Jeju mandarins

Jeju Mandarin Dongmun Market
Photo: Mandarin oranges at Dongmun Traditional Market

There are tangerine farms throughout Jeju and anyone visiting the island in the winter months should make an effort to try the island’s most famous fruit. Small mandarins are everywhere, while Hallabongs are larger fruits that are notable due to the bump at the orange’s stalk. Some of the most delicious fruits are those that have been recently developed, such as the Red Hyang and Cheonhye Hyang fruits that have been developed to be extra juicy and sweet.

If you aren’t on the island during the months when these fruits are in season, don’t despair. House Gyul are those grown in greenhouses and, while their green shade makes them look unripe, they are extremely sweet and delicious. And there are plenty of mandarin-flavored chocolates and dried fruits to give you a taste.

Hoe seafood

When seafood is this fresh, why bother cooking it? Instead, head to a hoejib to get a set of raw sliced fish and seafood served alongside side dishes and usually finished off with a haemultang soup. Haenyeo Jibs are those that sell shellfish caught by the island’s haenyeo, but there are plenty of other places to grab a raw fish set.

Momguk soup

Momguk is a warming and hearty soup. The primary ingredient is a type of seaweed called mojaban which is thinner while having more texture than the seaweed you’d usually get in a Korean seaweed soup. The seaweed is boiled in a pork broth and thickened with buckwheat flower to give it a thicker texture. It’s served in a streaming clay pot like other Korean soups so it’s sure to warm you up on a cold day.

Haemultang seafood soup

Maemultang is a soup stuffed full of seafood. It comes in a spicy broth and the shellfish is typically cooked whole with the shell included, depending the flavor of the broth. The exact seafood you get will depend on the restaurant but you’ll often get octopus, abalone, crab, and various types of shellfish. Haemultang isn’t necessarily a Jeju dish, but your trip to the island is a great chance to try the dish with fresh seafood.

Jeju Makgeolli and Hallasan Soju

Photo: Jeju soju souvenir box

If you drink alcohol, trying Jeju Makgeolli and Hallasan Soju is a must. Both are the island’s local version of a classic Korean drink.

Makgeolli is one of the most unique drinks you’ll ever try. The Jeju version is a 6% alcohol rice wine with a cloudy white color. It has a slightly sweet and slightly sour flavor and very light carbonation that breaks up the creaminess of the drink. It’s commonly drunk while eating pajeon, a type of fried savory pancake, although you’ll find it in many Korean restaurants.

Soju is a rice-based spirit. There are two versions of Jeju Hallasan Soju, one is 21% alcohol and one is 17% alcohol. This makes the drink around half the strength of vodka, although still much stronger than beer or wine. It’s clear alcohol and is most often drunk straight from a soju shot glass. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a black pork barbecue.

Dried squid

Look out at the Jeju sea at night, and you’ll likely see the bright lights of squid fishing boats. There are many ways to eat this catch, but one of the most fun is dried. You’ll notice people selling dried squid in coastal regions in the warmer months. Buy one and dip it in the red spicy sauce.

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Duncan Elder

Duncan first came to Jeju in 2011. The plan was to stay for six months. 11 years later, he's still here and enjoys sharing his knowledge of the island on Inside Jeju.