Word Wars: 삶다 vs 끓이다

Over Christmas and the New Year I’ve been doing a lot of cooking. As part of my goal to improve my kitchen vocabulary, I’ve tried to narrate what I’m doing in Korean as I go. I was making deviled eggs last week when I came across the following problem:

‘계란을 삶다’ or ‘계란을 끓이다’?

Boil means boil, right? 그럼 차이가 뭐에요?

After a quick flick through my Korean recipe books and a few dictionaries, here’s what I can work out:

  1. 삶다 means you threw out the water you cooked with
  2. 삶다 heats things through with water – they are usually immersed in it
  3. 끓이다 is not used outside of cooking OR boiling pure water (e.g. for tea, a bath)

삶다 – to boil (in hot water): 계란, 채소, 파스타, 감자, 고구마, 옥수수, 콩, 옷…

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끓이다 – to ‘make’ boil: 물, 차, 커피, 국, 쌀 (밥), 죽, 우유, 오트밀

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