Korean Phrases for Saying You Cannot Eat Gluten

1 Jun

I wanted to write a few posts on what food is gluten free in Korea (not much by the way) but I think I should get a few phrases written down before I talk about the food. Before coming to Korea I barely found any information on gluten free food here and what I did find was wrong. I want to set the record straight on this and try to provide the best information I can. If you want to know how to say something, leave me a comment and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.

First up is how to recognise wheat on food packets and also how to say you have a gluten allergy. This would all be much easier if you had a Korean with you or can read/speak Korean but obviously your casual traveller will have neither of those.

  1. The word for wheat is ‘mil‘ spelt in Korean as. This is very hard to find in the ingredients section of a packet as it is so small but keep checking. It won’t have it in the ingredients section but the word for gluten is spelt 글루텐 and pronounced guh-loo-ten.
  2. To say “I have a gluten allergy” you say “guh-loo-ten a-le-lu-gi ga iss-oh-yo“. Failing that show them these words: 글루텐 아레르기가 있어요.
  3. To ask if something contains gluten say “guh-loo-ten tul-oh iss-oh-yo?” Written in Korean as 글루텐 들어 있어요? If they answer with “neh” it means yes and so you should try to order something else. If the answer is “ah-ni-yo” then it means no and you are safe to order your dish. If they look flustered and say “jam-gan-man ki-da-ri-se-yo” it means they have no idea and are going to ask the kitchen for you.
  4. If someone offers you something that looks suspiciously wheaty you can simply say “I have a gluten allergy so I can’t eat it. I’m sorry” which is “guh-loo-ten ah-le-lu-gi ga iss-oh-soh mot-mog-oh-yo. chae-song-ham-ni-dah“. If you want you can just show them this sentence as it means exactly the same:  글루텐 아레르기가 있어서 못먹어요. 죄송합니다.
  5. Lastly, if you want to put this all together to say “I have a gluten allergy so I can’t eat food containing gluten” you say “guh-loo-ten ah-le-lu-gi ga iss-oh-soh guh-loo-ten tul-oh-in-nun um-shik-ull mot-mog-oh-yo.” This sentence might be fairly useful to carry with you:  글루텐 아레르기가 있어서 글루텐 들어 있는 음식을 못먹어요.

Now I will admit that this may not be natural Korean as I have written it myself but it’s served me pretty well so far. Not entirely sure how accurately I’ve translated the pronunciation into English but this is how I, a Brit, would say it.


Earl Grey Cupcakes

22 May

My photography skills really need to improve!

They look good right? I’m currently completely and totally obsessed with every type of tea you can think of, particularly earl grey. I was lying in bed one night and had the urge to bake when I suddenly thought, “I wonder if there is a recipe for earl grey cake…”

Now I’m more of a fan of the traditional cake where you can take as much or as little (read: a massive slab) as you like but we only have a cupcake pan in the house so I went with that. I got up one Sunday morning while my host family were all at church and decided to have a stab at these with my own gluten free flour mix. They turned out to be pretty damn fine and, as it happens, my host family love cupcakes so it was all rather successful.

The recipe I found is by the Hummingbird Bakery but I had to make a few adaptations/leave some things out due to living in the home baking barren land this is South Korea.
I managed to make about 16-18 cupcakes out of this recipe. I have also halved the ingredients for the icing/creme as the full recipe would have been waaaaay too much.


Sponge ingredients:

  • 3 Earl Grey teabags (use 4 if you want a really strong flavour)
  • 3 tablespoons plus a splash of boiling water
  • 80g of softened, unsalted butter. (If you are also living in Korea do not buy Korean butter; it is atrocious. Spend that little extra on foreign/British butter as the flavour will be far better)
  • 280g caster sugar (If you only have granulated this works just as well but takes extra work to mix in)
  • 240g plain gluten free flour (would be best to add xanthan gum I think but I didn’t have any)
  • 1 1/2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
  • A pinch and a bit of salt
  • 200ml milk (whole milk is recommended but I have no idea what I used)
  • 2 large eggs

Ingredients for the icing (which is more like a creme):

  • The teabags used for the sponge
  • 25ml milk
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g softened, unsalted butter


  1. Put the teabags into a small bowl and pour the boiling water over the top. If mixing by hand, the tea will be cool and brewed by the time you’re reading to add it to the mixture. If not, leave to brew for about 30 minutes and until completely cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190C and get your muffin/cupcake tins all ready and lined with cases.
  3. Place the butter (cubed is best) into a bowl with the sugar and cream until light and fluffy.
  4. Mix the flour (plus xanthan gum if using), baking powder and salt in a separate bowl then add half at a time to the creamed butter and sugar. It should resemble very fine breadcrumbs when it has come together properly.
  5. Put the milk and eggs into a jug, whisk, then add in the brewed tea. Squeeze out the teabags well so that you impart maximum earl grey flavour into the batter. Put the teabags back into the bowl and pour the 25ml milk over the top, ready for the creme.
  6. Add 3/4 of the milk, egg and tea mixture into the dry ingredients and combine. Add the remaining liquid and mix until the batter is smooth. I found the batter to be rather liquid and sloppy but this isn’t something to worry about.
  7. Fill the paper cases around 3/4 full then bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick, knife, chopstick, whatever you have to hand comes out clean. Leave the cakes in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Hot and fresh from the oven! Edit: Oh my god, please forgive my horrific feet. I didn’t know they were in the picture and can’t work out how to crop them out.

  1. To create the creme (it’s too sloppy to be an icing/frosting), combine the icing sugar and butter in a bowl. I found it easier to add half the icing sugar at a time otherwise it went all over the kitchen.
  2. When the icing sugar and butter is still a little powdery, add the earl grey infused milk and remember to squeeze the teabags to get maximum flavour. Combine until it’s nice a smooth.
  3. Once the cakes have cooled completely, add the creme/icing in whichever way you want! I cut out the centres, filled them then replaced the lids.


As I mentioned before, I do recommend that you try this with xanthan gum. I have no idea whether they sell it in Korea so had to make do without. It created a pretty interesting holey texture inside but this didn’t affect how it tasted or felt while eating. If you don’t have any to hand, it’s perfectly ok to leave out but you won’t have an authentic gluten texture.


The weird holey interior. Still tasted good though.


The inside of the cake. Mmmmmmm…

And there you have it, easy to make and delicious gluten free earl grey cupcakes. These are perfect for a tea party, picnic or just as something to have in the house. The creme is pretty sweet so you won’t be able to eat loads but that just makes them even more of an indulgent treat 😀

I’m Back!!

20 May

To my few readers: please forgive me for not posting anything new since last August.

I intended to keep on posting about my gluten free food exploits whilst studying here in  Korea but life got in the way. My language course was beyond intensive and I spend most of my time sleeping as I can’t deal with early mornings. Yes I know, lazy student problems.

However, my life here in Korea is drawing to a close which means that I will begin another chapter back in the UK when I return in June. I can’t say I have always enjoyed my time in Korea but I’m glad I came. I have a renewed and happier outlook on life with the knowledge that if I just take things one day at a time, the bad times will soon pass. I have decided that I want to become a primary school teacher either in the UK or in Australia/New Zealand and so will be undertaking volunteering at a school in Sheffield from September. I’m hoping to instill in the children a love for healthy food, animals and treating everyone equally. This is aim for my career as it is something which I haven’t seen much evidence of in Korea.

And thus, here I come to the main point of this post. From here on, I will be writing more posts as my love for healthy, gf food has been renewed and energised. I’ve also developed an interest in vegan baking as well as the raw food movement so I will be testing and de-glutenifying (sorry for the made up word Mum) some recipes I’ve had my eye on for a while.

That’s it for today as I’m nearing my bed time but sometime in the next week I will be posting an amazingly tasty recipe for…. EARL GREY CUPCAKES!

Bye for now 🙂


Korean Home Cooking

15 Aug

I’m incredibly lucky to have got a flatshare with the most awesome woman ever. She’s an art director in a stained glass company and almost feels like a big sister/mum to me already. I thought I should make a quick post about the food which Seunghee has cooked for me: it’s gf, super tasty and mostly vegetarian!

Seaweed, yellow rice with beans, soup with dried pumpkin, tomatoes and nectarines.

After rolling in at 7am on my first Sunday in Korea, I staggered still drunk into the kitchen and ask Seunghee how the hell I’d got home. I couldn’t remember a single thing but she took sympathy on me as it had happened to her quite a few times before. I was told to drink lots of water, eat and sleep all day. To help me with this she prepared the above meal for me which I ate over 5 hours in between napping and feeling sorry for myself. The soup isn’t vegetarian as it’s made with a fish stock but it was the perfect hangover cure! I’m not a fan of much Korean food as I think it has too many components but Seunghee’s home cooking is so simple, it’s just great.

Courgette and onion omelette, freshly cooked white rice, courgette and onion soup with seaweed

It’s Independence Day in Korea to commemorate the end of the Japanese occupation from 1910-1945. This means a public holiday for the entire country so Seunghee cooked us up some lunch. I wasn’t expecting it as she’d previously given me about 10 aubergines and a pumpkin from her farmer friend but I was so glad she prepared lunch! The omelette was really nice and went especially well in a seaweed and rice hand roll then dipped in the special soy sauce. Nothing makes me happier than freshly cooked warm rice wrapped in some seaweed so the omelette and tasty vegetable soup made me feel very content. In fact, both of us were so stuffed that we went into a bit of a food coma.

I’ve decided to put myself on a bit of a diet as I’m starting to put on weight from all the big portions you get here in Korea. That means you’ll have to view all my pathetic attempts to cook out here. Apologies but it’s all for a good cause eg my waistline.


Qatar Airlines’ Gluten Free Meals

10 Aug

It’s been a rather long time since I wrote anything on either of my blogs. Life here in South Korea is very hectic, and if I’m honest, not completely to my liking. The food situation is getting better since I’ve started cooking for myself at home but the heat outside has made doing anything unbearable. Luckily it’s starting to cool down so fingers crossed it stays that way!

I realise I should have made this post before my previous one but I couldn’t be bothered. I find airline meal posts really informative because it gives me an idea of what to expect, or not to as the case may be.

I flew with Qatar Airlines for both legs of my journey from Manchester Airport, UK to Incheon Airport, Seoul. It toyed with the idea of ordering a vegan meal in order to avoid the endless meat which I thought I would get but decided that my wheat allergy was more important. I came to regret this decision…

The smoked salmon was awesome but that’s about all that was good on this tray.

My first flight left just after 3pm so naturally I was absolutely starving. I’d heard that Qatar Airways was pretty good service-wise so had slightly higher than rock bottom expectations for my meals. I shouldn’t have bothered. What came was some exceptionally dry chicken covered in tomato sauce with a few peas and carrots on rice. The rice tasted ok but was hard and chalky to eat. I was so hungry I ate all of the chicken just to fill up on protein but it didn’t agree with me further on down the line.  The smoked salmon tasted so good but my joy was soon cancelled out by the bone-dry bread roll. It was just about edible with the butter and jam on but even that’s pushing it. The strawberries were a welcome end to the meal.

Mmmmm filling…

The picture above shows my lovely ‘snack’ just  before landing. Those who could eat normal food got an amazing smelling pizza wrap; I got given yet another desert dry roll with loads of chicken and just a few slices of cucumber and lettuce. By this time the chicken from the other meal had made me feel very unwell so I decided to take it out of the roll. You can see what I was left with…

Hands down the best meal of the whole journey

The above meal was my first on the Doha to Seoul leg of the journey and it was most welcome. I was so relieved not to have to look at decimated chicken, it was unbelievable! The mushroom omelette was pretty tasty compared to everything else I’d eaten, it made up for the burnt peas. The tomatoes were alright as well. However, the brown thing on the left is one of the most disgusting gluten free rolls I have ever had the displeasure to taste. I can’t describe what it was like because it was so foul that I immediately erased it from my memory. The salads are a fruit salad and also a veg one which appear again in the final meal.

The last and, thankfully, final meal of the flight

Woo! More super dry chicken!! Obviously I also put this abomination passed off as food to one side and attempted to eat the murdered vegetables and rice surrounding it. You can see the same 2 salads and revolting bread in the picture so it’s fair to say that I didn’t eat much of this meal.

All in all I was pretty happy to be finishing my flight, not just because I was tired, but also from a food point of view. The staff are very friendly and Doha airport is pretty swish but the gluten free meal was rather rank. If you’re planning on doing long haul with Qatar Airways then I definitely recommend that you take as much of your own food as you can. Especially if you’re vegetarian/vegan as well as gluten free.

First meal in Korea: Tuna Mayo Kimbab

30 Jul

These past few days have been absolutely insane for me! Since I moved to Korea on Wednesday I’ve been shopping in numerous locations, moved into my apartment which I share with my landlady Seunghee and had the most drunkenly random night out last night. Needless to say I’ve been feeling horrendous today but Seunghee made me a lovely lunch to help me get over my hangover. I’ll be posting something about that sometime soon.

Eating in Korea is proving to be extremely difficult from a gluten free perspective, never mind being a gf vegetarian! I’ve had to eat meat in some form pretty much every day since I’ve got here. It’s not something I want to do but in such a meat centric society, if I want to avoid having a reaction to wheat then I have to eat it; especially as my measly grasp of Korean is so poor that I can’t explain my allergy.

After my horrific food with Qatar Airways (I’ll make a separate post for that) I just wanted a simple meal on my first night here. For that I chose kimbab which is pretty  much just a Korean version of the Japanese maki zushi. In my opinion it’s the poor cousing of maki zushi but that may just be me. The main difference between the Korean and Japanese versions is that the Japanese one is just tuna mayo with perhaps some strips of cucumber; nice and simple. Here in Korea they pretty much put everything they can find in the kitchen into the kimbab. For the tuna mayo one it contained a smattering of tuna mayo, ham, yellow pickled radish, egg and some mystery vegetables. Even though it’s not the most exciting of meals, it’s pretty tasty, gf and super cheap: the portion in the picture below came to about £1.25.

It’s not ground breaking but I recommend this for a quick and cheap gf meal.

Victoria Sandwich

27 Jul

It’s been a long time since I posted anything as I have just moved to South Korea for my year abroad. Everything’s a bit hectic right now but hopefully I’ll be able to start posting things more regularly soon! The food will change to being Korean though so it will be a little different round here from now on 😛

Oh I’m going to miss this cake while I’m in Korea…

I wanted to post the recipe up for this cake but I don’t have the book with me here in Seoul. I found it in Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes book and it’s a one-bowl recipe. If I can remember rightly it was:

  • 100g butter/margarine
  • 100g gf flour (this might be wrong so please don’t try this recipe without checking!!)
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Jam of any flavour and quantity for the filling
  • Some caster sugar for sprinkling over the top.


  • Prepare 2 round sandwich cake tins by either greasing them or lining with greaseproof paper.
  • Put all the ingredients into a bowl and either turn on the standing mixer or whisk together with a hand mixer until you get a smooth batter.
  • Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake from 30-35 minutes at 160 degrees for fan assisted ovens.
  • Once cooked, leave in the tins for a while then turn out onto a cooling rack.
  • After the cakes have completely cooled, spread jam on one half and put the other half on top.
  • Sprinkle with caster sugar and the cake is ready to eat!
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