Vietnam and South Korea: Similarities in New Year Celebrations

When it comes to celebrating the New Year, both countries share a common thread, particularly in terms of cuisine.

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South Korean fermented food is thought to pair well with Vietnamese Tet delicacies.

Park Sang Kyung, a South Korean chef, will share his recipe for making kimchi, which he believes is a perfect accompaniment to traditional Vietnamese Tet dishes.

Love for Vietnamese Cuisine

In an interview with The Hanoi Times, Park expressed his love for celebrating the Lunar New Year in Vietnam.

“In South Korea, we usually have three or four days off for the occasion, which is shorter than in Vietnam. That’s why I like to stay in Vietnam during the Lunar New Year. I enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere in Hanoi and the way people gather to toast to the best things to come in the New Year,” he said.

According to Park, Tet is also a very special occasion in Korea. Just like Vietnamese culture, Korean culture values the New Year as a time for everyone to come together, cook delicious dishes, and give lucky money to children.

Bulgogi (grilled beef) is the traditional New Year dish in Korean culture. Kimchi is also a common dish on Korean holiday trays. Koreans usually choose cabbage kimchi or radish kimchi to include on the offering tray.

From time to time, Chef Park Sang Kyung holds kimchi-making workshops in Hanoi. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

Having worked in the food industry for many years, Park chose Vietnam as one of the stops on his culinary journey because of his fascination with traditional Vietnamese food, which is abundant during the Lunar New Year.

“Various delicious dishes are prepared and offered to the ancestors, and then people gather to enjoy the food in a cozy atmosphere. I’ve chosen kimchi because it’s good for soothing the stomach during the Tet festival. I would like to learn more about Vietnam’s fermented vegetables because I know that Vietnamese cuisine also includes many types of pickled dishes,” he added.

Authentic Kimchi and BBQ

Park is one of the influencers popularizing Korean culinary trends among the Vietnamese people. According to Park, Korean cuisine adapts to suit local tastes in different countries. He wants to convey the message of “authentic Korean cuisine” to the diners. As kimchi is a naturally fermented food, it has an antibacterial effect and aids digestion.

 Chef Park gives a lesson in the preparation of authentic kimchi. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

To celebrate Tet, the chef provides some tips for making kimchi. Fresh ingredients are essential, including green and thin cabbage leaves that can quickly absorb the sauce. 

Fresh ingredients for making kimchi. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

The spices used to marinate kimchi often vary based on each family’s taste but usually include white radish, carrots, garlic, chili powder, onion, ginger, among others. Normally, kimchi can be left at room temperature for 1-2 days to ferment quickly or stored in the fridge for a week.

Korean BBQ can be an option for Vietnamese people during the Tet holiday. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

Meanwhile, to make delicious Korean BBQ, the ingredients must be carefully selected. Delicious cuts of meat for Korean BBQ should have a good amount of fat woven into the meat’s fibers, be cut to a medium thickness, and grilled at a moderate heat.

“Fire is one of the most important factors to consider when barbecuing meat. Do not use too much heat, or the meat will dry out quickly. Grill and turn slowly over moderate heat. The meat is cooked when it is lightly charred. When you cut it, the inside of the meat should still retain moisture,” said Park.