Cooking with Soju? Creative Recipes Made With Korea’s Signature Spirit

Characteristically light, smooth, and clean, soju is one beverage to rule them all. An outlier of a drink contrasting traditional roots with notable modern appeal, it’s recognised for being a light and crisp palate cleanser, especially when served alongside lip-smacking finger foods and fatty barbecued meats. It’s no wonder that soju is Korea’s signature drink — an all-round crowd-pleaser that entices individuals from all walks of life, no matter their age or background.

But apart from its good name as a beverage, soju has found widespread culinary applications elsewhere. Some decades down the road from its initial invention it’s also being incorporated as an ingredient in unique Korean recipes. While some of them substitute various forms of alcohol, others are spun into one-of-a-kind creations that surprise and delight. But, at the bottom of it all, these recipes and soju itself uphold one deep-seated Korean principle — the communal and intimate practice of sharing a meal with loved ones.

In this article, our team of soju enthusiasts at Chorong Chorong spotlight five imaginative recipes (that aren’t cocktails) that make use of this crisp and neutral spirit to honour the respectable tradition. From succulent drunken pork chops and melt-in-the-mouth cookies to rich and briny salted egg prawns, here are the dishes that will have family and friends huddling over the dinner table for more. 

Ahead, we present Creative Recipes Made With Korea’s Signature Spirit:

Soju Pork Chops

Alcohol is the secret to flavourful and fall-off-the-bone pork. Even though red and white wine often are the ingredients of choice for tenderising meats, Korea’s national beverage can do the same with an added dimension of sweetness. These substantial slabs of pork chop are seasoned with salt and pepper then pan-seared for a beautiful roast. The addition of soju comes in partnership with bright and zesty lemon juice, giving them a much-needed lift while lending a deeper colour and flavour by virtue of caramelisation. 

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Abalone Rice

This abalone rice is comfort food at its finest when you’re feeling under the weather. It also doubles as a fuss-free one-pot fix when you’re whipping up a solitary meal. Requiring only three other basic and easily accessible ingredients (sesame oil, white rice, water), all the work lies in preparation — you can leave the rest to your rice cooker. The final result is a delicate, seafood-infused rice dish that tastes almost exactly like Korea’s classic jeonbokjuk, or abalone porridge, complete with the subtle sweetness of soju.

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Korean Honey Cookies

Korean honey cookies, or yakgwa, are traditional deep-fried cookies known for their distinctive fragrance. The original calls for rice wine, but this recipe uses the grain-based profile of soju as a substitute. Other main ingredients include wheat flour, giving the confection a mild canvas for the vibrant and engulfing flavours of ginger and honey, and sesame oil, which lends a pleasant nuttiness. Korean honey cookies are usually enjoyed during special occasions such as weddings and birthdays. Texture-wise, yakgwa are described as having a soft exterior that gives way to a crumbly interior. 

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Soju-Infused Salted Egg Prawns

The delightful saltwater flavours of fresh prawns, umami-packed salted egg, and clean mouthfeel of soju harmonise in this creamy, well-balanced and utterly addictive salted egg prawn dish. Here, juicy prawns are bathed in a blend of soju and shrimp broth, soaking up every ounce of flavour, before being gently pan-fried to a glorious golden hue and simmered in a luxe combination of coconut cream and salted egg. Whether featured as part of a grand Chinese-inspired feast or paired simply with steamed white rice, these buttery salted egg prawns are versatile and destined to win the hearts of young and old alike. 

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Green Plum Extract

Although not a dish in itself, green plum extract (maesil-cheong) is a widely used condiment in Korean cuisine, with ties to traditional medicine. This fermented syrup, derived from green plums, is often heralded as a healthier alternative to sweeteners. If you ever find yourself with more soju than needed, consider making maesil-cheong with the popular beverage. In doing so, you can even explore its potential to transform into plum liquor. Maesil-cheong is said to help with digestion, detoxification and boosting energy levels.

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Share Your Recipes With Chorong Chorong

Korea’s food scene is enriched with hundreds and thousands of recipes preserved and handed down through generations. With the passage of time, these culinary traditions may adapt to cater to the evolving palates of younger generations, often sparking the creation of new and fresh gastronomic delights. 

If you’ve crafted your own culinary masterpieces using the versatile and pleasurable soju, we invite you to share them with us. At Chorong Chorong, creators of Singapore’s authentic soju, we’re always eager to discover new ways to savour this beloved beverage!

Get in touch with us personally and share your creations with us today.

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