Spicing Up This Summer with These Drinks and Dishes

jeyukbokkeum stir fried pork

Many of us may not consider reaching for a spicy dish amid a heat wave. Reaching for cold water and frozen treats is common, but did you know that spicy food could make you feel as refreshed as a frozen treat? It doesn't seem logical, but consider that many tropical regions are famous for their spicy food, not just because it's delicious!

Why Spicy Foods Make Summer Temps Cooler?

When we eat something with a bit of heat, dishes containing chiles or other hot peppers and spices, we can experience a flush of warmth and even sweat. It's generally due to a compound called capsaicin, which stimulates our nerve endings and results in a burning sensation. Once the flushed sensation passes, your body begins to trigger its cooling mechanisms by inducing sweating, and as the sweat evaporates, it cools us down.

In addition to causing us to sweat and the evaporation cooling us, eating food that's even mildly spicy can produce endorphins, like serotonin, which not only improves our mood but can decrease depression and stress!

When you eat spicy food, you:

  • Kick-start your body's cooling mechanisms, producing sweat that evaporates. The act of evaporation creates a cooling sensation.
  • Experience a culinary adventure; summer is the perfect time to embark. Spicy foods from different cuisines worldwide can offer a dizzying array of flavors and ingredients, allowing you to travel the world through your taste buds.
  • Boost your mood and endorphins. Your body releases endorphins when eating spicy food; those are the feel-good hormones for a happy sensation.
  • Speed digestion. Hot foods often have complementary flavors like ginger, garlic, or turmeric, known for their digestive benefits.
  • Stay fuller, longer. Many people find that spicy foods are more satisfying and can curb their appetite to help prevent overeating.

However, note that if you have certain medical conditions, you may want to ask your doctor if it's ok to experiment with the spicy food below this summer.

Spicy Stir-Fried Pork – Dwaejigogi-bokkeum

In Korea and many Asian countries, pork-belly dishes are go-to meals, such as ssamgyup-ssal, or grilled pork belly. Another beloved dish is spicy stir-fried pork from Korea, which uses pork belly as the main ingredient.

This Korean dish is incredible because it can take as little as 15 minutes to prepare this delicious, spicy, irresistible-looking and smelling dish.


  • 1 lb pork belly, cut into bite-sized pieces, 1/8th inch thick. (Think thick cut bacon)
  • 1/4th cup hot pepper paste (gochujang)
  • 1 tablespoon light or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper flakes (gochu-garu)
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

How to:

  1. Heat a large cast-iron skillet or pan over medium-high heat
  2. Add your pork belly, hot pepper paste, soy, hot pepper flakes, sugar, black pepper and toasted sesame oil
  3. Mix well, stirring with a wooden spoon, and cook until the seasoning coats the pork well
  4. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and green onions, then stir until the pork is cooked through, with a bit of crispiness, for about 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy!

Jalapeño Lemonade


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar, honey, or sweetener of choice, such as Splenda or Stevia
  • 2 large fresh jalapeños, seeded and chopped (keep the ribs), or about 1/3 cup of chopped jalapenos
  • 1 and ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons)
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • ¾ teaspoon of fine-grain salt
  • Optional: jalapeño powder, to taste

How to:

  1. Combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan. Over medium heat, stirring occasionally, cook until sugar completely dissolves. Stir in jalapeños, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for at least 30 minutes before straining the peppers from the syrup.
  2. Combine lemon juice, 4 cups of cold water, and salt while the syrup is steeping. Stir until the salt is dissolved, and set in the fridge if the syrup is not done steeping.
  3. Combine the syrup with the lemon juice and water in a pitcher once the syrup is ready. If you're adding jalapeño powder, add to taste, stirring thoroughly to dissolve, then chill for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Spicy Inspiration

What other delectable, spicy dishes and drinks should you consider this summer?

  • Spicy grapefruit ginger fizz mocktail. This is a mocktail to wow tastebuds with citrus zestiness, a splash of lime, a mint sprig, a few jalapeño slices, and ginger beer. Mixed with lots of ice, the refreshing chill with the flush of warmth from the ginger and jalapeño will cool you off in no time.
  • Grilled Mexican chorizo paired with a spicy tomato sauce is an easy dish bursting with flavors. Grill your favorite chorizo sausages, and create a delicious homemade tomato sauce with capers, olives, and fresh cilantro for a bright, tongue-tingling taste.
  • Fried chicken with a hot honey sauce, sweet, deep-golden, crunchy, and juicy, is a vibrant, sweet, and spicy dish with you, your family, and guests wanting seconds and thirds. Consider using a creamy buttermilk brine and fine ""00"" Italian flour for a super-crunchy crust that will be unforgettable.
  • Thai Peanut Sauce. The wonderful thing about a good, spicy Thai peanut sauce is that it is the ultimate for dipping anything you can dream of, from veggies to spring rolls to rice paper rolls or creating fantastic noodle dishes. Easy to whip up with peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, chili garlic sauce or sriracha, a splash of lime juice, some garlic, ginger, and a bit of warm water to create the sauce consistency, and you've got a versatile meal and snacking addition.

Try to beat the heat this summer and have your taste buds explore the world. Explore Thai, Vietnamese, African, Mexican, Indian, Sichuan Chinese, Korean, Caribbean, Malaysian, and Indonesian cuisines to find a perfect flavor and heat dish for you.

When faced with possible power outages, broken air conditioners, or a desire to save money, it's likely to stay comfortable while experimenting with flavors. At Wholy, we love everything about food and hope to inspire and encourage you to love it again.