Chimaek: What Is It, Taste, and How To Eat?

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While learning about new cultures, you get invested in the different cuisines they have. Korean culture is known for its unique and versatile display of foods. 

One of these food traditions is chimaek, but what is chimaek, and how do you eat it?

Chimaek is a type of meal in Korean culture that refers to eating chicken and beer. It’s a popular tradition that has grown in popularity in other countries, particularly China. 

In many Korean dramas (k-dramas), chimaek is shown as the comfort food for the main characters, meaning that chimaek is constantly advertised on TV.

The rest of this article will cover what chimaek is, how to eat it, and a brief conclusion.

What Chimaek Is

Koreans love their tradition of eating chimaek (치맥), a delicious combination of chicken and beer. 

The pairing dates back to the Korean War, back when South Korea was introduced to fried chicken. American troops fried chicken for them.

Since the South Korean side was focused on healthier forms of chicken, like adding it to broth, they weren’t big on frying foods. 

When cooking oil came to South Korea in 1971, consumption of fried chicken increased. Cold beer went well with the chicken, so that’s what they had it with.

South Korean drama My Love from the Star featured a reference to chimaek that made it even more famous in the country and beyond. 

To hop on the trend, Pelicana Chicken (페리카나 Chicken) opened its first restaurant in South Korea and grew the love of chimaek more.

Many chimaek fanatics call themselves chideokhu (치덕후), which is a combo of the words chicken and deokhu, which means maniac in Korean. 

The reason why it’s so popular is that unlike American chicken, Koreans fry their chicken twice to make it crispier. 

Where To Buy Chimaek

If you’re in South Korea, you’re in luck. Chimaek is a famous meal you can eat at almost any restaurant, especially those specializing in meat. 

You have to go to a restaurant that allows alcohol in order to have it, but those are easy enough to find around Seoul in particular.

If you’re not in South Korea, there are other ways you can get chimaek. You can go to a Korean restaurant and have it served to you there. 

Since it’s so popular, some Korean restaurants may even sell the chicken they used in small packages so you can take it home.

Along with that, you can make your own chimaek easily. There are plenty of online recipes, and there aren’t many required ingredients. 

Of course, the main ingredient you need is chicken, and you should follow instructions so you can properly fry the chicken like it’s fried in South Korea.

Chimaek has lots of sauces and seasonings put on it, so when you buy the chicken you’re going to use, pick up what you think will work well with the chicken you’re buying. 

It depends on what part of the chicken you want and how you plan to cook it.

What Chimaek Tastes Like

Chimaek isn’t as healthy as other Korean foods since it’s fried not once, but twice. The oils it has leads to it being fatty, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. 

It tastes like chicken, sure, but it has a crispness to it that you can’t get from other chickens.

Also, chimaek is sprinkled in different sauces and seasonings. Some make it with soy sauce while others make their own. 

Garlic, onions, Korean chili paste, ginger, and more can be added to chimaek to bring out more of the flavors.

How To Eat Chimaek

Since chimaek is a mashup of the words chi (fried chicken) and maek (beer, spelled 맥주 or maekju in Korean), you’ll need cold, draft beer and fried chicken to complete the meal. 

It’s recommended that you eat chimaek with your friends since beer is better with buddies.

There are a couple ways you can eat chimaek: with friends, at a party, and as a late-night craving. 

Since chimaek is associated with parties and social events, you should try your best to have it around other people, sharing the dish and memories at the same time.

Eating Chimaek With Friends

Chimaek is a delicious meal you should share with your friends. Drinking with friends is a common occurrence not just in South Korea, but worldwide as well. 

Your friends will thank you if you make them chicken and give them beer, or if you eat it out at a new restaurant.

It’s more fun to try new things with people you trust, and diving into Korean culture is a way you can do that. 

Whenever you have the chance, try to eat chimaek with your friends by going out to eat, or cooking it yourself.

Eating Chimaek At A Party

Similar to friends, eating chimaek at a party is fun because you can bond over great food and beer. Frying chicken in large portions is relatively easy and affordable. 

You can pick up several packs of chicken for cheap prices, and frying them doesn’t take long at all.

You can feed an entire group of people in only 20 minutes. 

Whether you know the people at the party or not, supplying alcohol and delicious food to the consumers is a perfect way to break the ice and introduce new friends to one another.

Chimaek is best utilized at social events since food is one of the ways people are brought together. 

In different countries, you can engage with culture without even needing to know the language: food is a way you can do that. 

It’s similar to people. Without even needing to speak, you can bond over the food being served. That’s why it’s important to have chimaek with others. 

In Korean culture, it’s been primarily used as a way to bring people together to celebrate or have social outings.

Eating Chimaek As A Late Night Craving

Having chicken late at night may not be appealing to many because you’d have to cook at a time you’re normally tired. 

However, if you’re hungry, a small portion of fried chicken with a refreshing beer is a perfect mix that’ll fill you up and give you protein and energy.

Frying chicken doesn’t take that long, so you can have a fulfilling meal in less than 20 minutes. 

If you’re staying up late doing work, taking a break to eat a tasty dish is not only good for your brain, but it’s also a way to inspire yourself to get back to work.

Conclusion

A popular South Korean food is chimaek, which is a chicken and beer meal commonly seen on k-dramas. It’s grown in fame, especially throughout China, because of the constant advertisement of it, how it’s a comfort food, and how delicious it is.

Chimaek came to South Korea during the days of the Korean War. 

American troops introduced the concept of frying chicken to the South Koreans, who were mostly against frying to instead have healthier meals. After the concept was introduced, chimaek became famous in Korea.

Lastly, you can eat chimaek in many different ways. 

Chimaek is best when it’s fried twice and marinated in sauces like soy sauce. You should always have a cold beer to go along with it. 

The best ways to have chimaek are with friends, at a party, or as a late-night craving.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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