Anju: The Korean Snacks Designed To Be Washed Down With Booze

Mug of beer and Korean anju
Mug of beer and Korean anju - Tupungato/Getty Images

If you've ever been out drinking with your friends and felt a case of the munchies come on, you're not the first person to face this dilemma. In Korea, they've embraced this phenomenon and actually have a word for snacks or bar food that's meant to be enjoyed alongside your favorite adult drinks — anju. In fact, anju is such an ingrained tradition that in some establishments, if you want to order a drink, you have to order some accompaniments, as well!

These foods are served with everything from typical drinks such as Korea's oldest drink, makgeolli, as well as soju, and cheongju, to more international beverages like wine and beer. Anju are often savory or spicy dishes, although you may also find things like fruit and nuts. Of course, the type of anju someone eats will depend largely on what they're drinking, with different alcohols pairing best with certain flavors. Some drinks pair best with spicy meals, others are well-suited to fruity flavors, and still others may work best with classic fried food. Knowing which drinks to pair with specific foods is key if you want to adopt this Korean tradition yourself.

Read more: 10 Of The Healthiest Beers You Can Drink

What To Pair With Savory Anju

Soju in two cups, and Korean anju
Soju in two cups, and Korean anju - Ika Rahma H/Shutterstock

When it comes to savory flavors, there are a couple of common pairings. One popular choice is to pair beer with fried chicken. In fact, this pairing is so popular that locals have made a mashup of the word chicken and maekj (Korean for "beer") to refer to this pairing — chimaek. Besides fried chicken, other common savory Korean dishes that you may find matched with beer include seasoned nuts and dried fish or squid.

Of course, beer isn't the only alcohol that works well with more savory flavors. Another drink you'll frequently find alongside these types of anju is makgeolli. This rice-based wine pairs well with pajeon, which is a Korean fried pancake, as well as kimchi and spicy stir-fried chicken.

Remember -- these are just a few examples of savory and spicy anju. There are plenty of other popular picks, such as braised pig's feet or spicy rice and fish cakes, which can go well with soju, among other drinks. As you step into the world of anju, you can start experimenting with your own flavor combinations of boozy beverages and savory or spicy snacks.

What About Sweet Flavors?

Pile of various fruit
Pile of various fruit - Ideabug/Getty Images

For the most part, you won't find sweet side dishes gracing a platter of Korean anju. However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. For instance, fruit is a sweeter side dish that you may find accompanying alcoholic beverages in Korea.

Fruit tends to work well with drinks such as sweet fruit wines, such as bokbunjaju, which is made of Korean black raspberries, or wild grape wines, which tend to be quite sugary, as well. Besides wine, you may also find this side dish accompanying fruit-flavored soju or soju cocktails. Wedges of fresh fruit, or even nuts mixed with sweet dried fruit, can complement the tasting notes in these alcoholic beverages. Beyond fruit, you may also find jeonggwa, a crispy, honey-soaked snack, or dasik, a type of tea cookie, particularly accompanying cheongju.

If you have a sweet tooth, choosing one of these flavor combos might be the way to satisfy your cravings. Or, give a sweet and savory combo a whirl instead. No matter what you try, venturing into the world of Korean anju is an experience you're sure to fall in love with.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.