Anju: The Best Drinking Snacks For Your Next Party

It’s no secret that Korean people enjoy their alcohol, and they love eating while they drink even more. In fact, there are special side dishes or snacks - known as anju (안주) - that are meant to be eaten when drinking different types of alcohol. These dishes are often savory or spicy, though sweeter foods are also enjoyed with some drinks. In our last blog on this topic, we explored the ins and outs of the drinking culture in Korea. Today, we’ll be sharing with you some of the go-to drinking snacks to order or cook when you drink with Koreans!

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1. Beer

Beer is commonly paired with dry snacks, and it’s easy to see why. Alcohol is known to enhance the taste of salty and fatty foods; and in turn, these types of foods also enhance the taste of beer. With these facts in mind, there’s no wonder that so many Koreans like to pair beer with dry food.

In Korea, the popular pairing of fried chicken with beer even has its own name: chimaek (combining the words ‘chicken’ and maekju (맥주, or beer)!

Snacks to eat with beer: Fried chicken (referred to as 치맥), dried nogari (Alaskan pollock), dried shredded squid, jwipo (쥐포, or traditional Korean fish jerky), seasoned nuts, yukpo (육포, or dried beef meat).

2. Makgeolli

Makgeolli (막걸리) is a Korean rice wine known for its sweet, tangy, and bitter taste. It is also the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korean history, making it an established part of drinking culture. Interestingly, because makgeolli is a probiotic product, the drink is said to increase metabolism, relieve fatigue and improve the complexion! Makgeolli is also known as a rainy day drink, where it is often paired with Korean pancakes.

Snacks to eat with makgeolli: Pajeon (파전, or Korean scallion pancakes), Dubu-kimchi (두부김치, or stir-fried tofu and kimchi), golbaengi-muchim (골뱅이무침, or moon snail salad), kimchi, Dak-galbi (닭갈비, or spicy stir-fried chicken).

3. Cheongju

Cheongju (청주) is a clear, refined Korean rice wine. Different from makgeolli - which was an alcohol of the common people - cheongju was commonly consumed by members of the royal court. Cheongju also has a reputation for causing people to get drunk quickly and sober up quickly!

Snacks to eat with cheongju: Bugak (부각, or dried vegetables/seaweed), dasik (다식 a type of small Korean confection), jeonggwa (정과, a confection made from boiled fruit in honey), namul (나물, edible grass/leaves), and jeon (전, a Korean-style fritter)

4. Soju

    Soju is a clear, colorless alcoholic beverage, and it is by far the most popular Korean alcohol. Nowadays, soju also comes in dozens of fruity flavors, making it a popular drink at gatherings all over the world!

    Snacks to eat with soju: Samgyeopsal (삼겹살, or grilled pork belly) Gamja-tang (감자탕, or pork back-bone stew), jogae-tang (조개탕, or clam soup), jjukkumi-bokkeum (쭈꾸미 볶음, or stir-fried baby octopus), kimchi-jjigae (김치찌개, or kimchi stew).

    What is your go-to anju when you drink? Let us know in the comments below!

    Soju is Korea's most famous alcohol. Learn more in our blog:

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