DISCLAIMER: FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS.
This week, we are at the letter “ㅇ” of the Korean alphabet series. When positioned as a first syllable, the “ㅇ”. More on that in the next post when we break it down. For this letter, I decided to do it on 안주 (anju).
Anju, ahnjoo, whatever romanized spelling you wish to use….it is pronounced as “ahn”…..like the Korean last name, “Ahn”….”joo”.
It’s what you eat with drinks. When I googled the translation, some translate it to “pub grub”. Well, when one thinks of pub grubs, specific pub or bar food come to mind. And Korean bars have their share of pub grub food, too. But “anju” isn’t exactly limited to those specific dishes. A more accurate translation I found was “food to have with alcohol”. Anju can be almost anything you want it to be. Heck, I’ve even seen someone eat a side of kimchi as anju with their drinks just so that they can have something to eat. With Koreans, when drinking is involved, food of some sort is almost always incorporated.
Below are some of my favorites.
Ddukbokki is often my go-to anju when I walk into a Korean bar, hungry. Like many Koreans, I crave spicy food when I drink. Ddukbokki is one of my favorite comfort foods, drinking or not.
The literal translation of dakddongjip is:
ddong = poop
jip = house/housing
So yeah, chicken poop house. In English, we refer to this as, well…..chicken gizzards. I effing love them! I first fell in love with them when I was about seven or eight. Maybe it’s the chewy crunchiness of them. I loved the way it felt when chewing on them and I’d pop ‘em like candy. My grandma would prepare a big bowl of dakddongjip. My family and I would gather around the floor at the table (the time before we graduated to tables with chairs. We had one but they were only for guests) and chat while munching on these in a similar fashion of how a family might gather around and munch on a big bowl of popcorn or something. Dakddongjip and soju is bliss!
For those nights when I am not super hungry but can munch, I may order some jeon (savory pancake). Hot, crispy jeon while I am downing shots of soju is 캬~~! It’s a sound that Koreans make when eating/drinking something that hits the spot. It’s pronounced as “kyaaaaahhh”. No translation in English lol.
Golbeng e muchim
Sea snail salad. In my experience, this has usually been a hit or miss. When made properly, it’s spicy, acidic enough to cut out the brininess of the snails, and abundant of fresh and crisp vegetables (usually lettuce, onion, carrots, cucumbers). The nastier ones I’ve had were either too sweet or didn’t have enough acidity, overemphasizing the brininess of the snails.
Oh yes! Soups are great while drinking and of course, after drinking! Some of my favorite soups as anju are budae jjigae or odengtang (fishcake soup). Soups are seriously the best when alcohol is involved. Need them during and after drinking!
KFC (Korean fried chicken)
Is it me or does it seem like there is a KFC joint opening up every other week in town? These joints are usually chi-mek joints. Chi (for chicken), mek (mekjoo = beer). Chimek-ing is serious business withKoreans. For me, when someone says to me, “I’m in the mood for some chimek,” and invites me to come, I usually go for the “chi”! without the “mek” since I don’t drink beer. If they have soju or makgeoli, I might opt for one of those with my “chi” instead. But chi-so or chi-geoli isn’t really part of the Kbar scene vocabulary.
When not hungry, sometimes gwaja is ideal to have while drinking. Many Korean bars will usually bring out some kind of complimentary gwaja anyway. Other complimentary munch items might include popcorn, peanuts, cucumber/carrot sticks (with a side of gochujang/mayo), etc. Gwaja varieties at a typical Korean bar usually come in the likes of these. From those, my favorites are 고구마깡 (sweet potato chips. YUM), 새우깡 (shrimp chips. I grew up with these), and 양파링 (onion rings.
I love ASMR. The video above shows how a jwipo is usually heated and eaten. This is a fish jerky made from jwichi (filefish). When I was a kid, this was my dad’s favorite snack after dinner. It’d get me so excited every time I smelled the roasting sweet savory smell of jwi po being warmed up in the oven. Parents would tell me to wait until they cooled off a little when I’d start trying to get my grubby little hands on a piece. My mom would tear the jerky up into small pieces for me and blow on them to cool off a bit more. Never tried jwipo? Get yours here! I haven’t had jwipo in a while. Now I am craving it as I am writing about it.
In the video above, the guy eats jwipo and then ojinguh at 1:23. Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and get some?! Love it when they are piping, right off the heat. Dried squid is another childhood fav of mine. This is like, such an ajussi. An ajussi means mister/uncle/old man…..again, no exact translation of it in English. But it’s basically what you would call a man of marrying age/older. And if you call an oppa (older brother/cousin/friend/neighbor, stranger, whatever….if you’re female. If male, you’d say “hyung”) an ajussi, he might get upset and ask you to call him oppa. I heard someone once say that general rule of thumb for oppa is ten years. Older than that, he’s ajussi to you. But yeah, dried squid is another popular anju to chew on. Like jwipo, ojinguh has “씹는 맛 (shib neun mat)”. I’m not even sure if there is an exact translation of this term.
shibneun = chewing
mat = taste
The best I can explain what “shib neun mat” is what a person might feel through chewing and the texture of the food. Think of beef jerky. Jwipo and ojinguh have similar “shibneun mat” as beef jerky. Satisfaction is obtained through the chewing of the beef jerky, right? A person with bad teeth might experience bad or no “shib neun mat” since jerky food commonly requires some hefty chewing through. I’ve seen little kids with not yet fully developed teeth loving on jwipo and ojinguh. But they could not fully chew. Instead, they mostly sucked on them like lollipops. They knew the taste and sucked the flavors from them, but couldn’t fully experience “shibneun mat”. Ready to experience the “shib neun mat” of ojinguh? Get yours here.
In part 2 of ㅇ, we break down the letters of “안주”.
To explore more on anju, please follow my Pinterest board on anju, where I pin delicious anju!
Other (Korean food related) boards to follow:
Korea -Korean food & recipes (this one is a group board that I was invited to join a long time ago)
Learning Korean through food (this board I created specifically geared towards Korean 101 series)