Popular winter snacks in Korea
Bungeoppang is the Korean name of a pastry similar to the Japanese fish-shaped pastry taiyaki.
Bungeoppangs are prepared using an appliance similar to a waffle iron. The batter is poured into a fish-shaped mold, red bean paste is added, then more batter to encase the red bean paste. The mold is then closed, and roasted.
Roasted Sweet Potato (Gun Goguma)
Sweet Potatoes or Goguma, are loved by Koreans and are essential snack in the wintertime. Sweet Potatoes are a root vegetable that is large, starchy, and have a sweet taste for a vegetable. Roasted sweet potatoes, “Goon Goguma” is a staple winter food in South Korea. You’ll be able to find them being sold on the streets by ajusshis passing out steaming sweet potatoes in a large envelope made from recycled paper. Large metal barrels are actually used to make street-cart ovens with customized trays to roast the sweet potatoes.
Tteok-bokki is a widely popular dish in Korea that has a very distinctive spicy, yet sweet, flavor. The main ingredient of tteok-bokki is garae-tteok (rice cake formed into a long white cylinder shape), which is mixed with eomuk (fish cake) and various vegetables like onions, cabbage, and carrots, and red pepper paste. The mixture is heated and served with a hot cup of broth that the eomuk was cooked in.
Tteok-bokki is easily found all across Korea. Tteok-bokki franchise restaurants have also increased in numbers and a wider variety of tteok-bokki flavors are available including ones using curry and cheese. Prices vary by store, but you can generally expect to pay 2,500 to 3,500 won per serving with complimentary refills of eomuk broth.
Yet another favorite street food snack that Koreans like to eat as the temperatures drop is kkochi eomuk (fish cake skewers). Eomuk is prepared on skewers then boiled in a broth flavored with radishes and kelp. Unlike tteok-bokki, eomuk is not spicy and is a great complement to help soothe the spicy taste of tteok-bokki. Kkochi eomuk usually cost anywhere from 500 to 1,000 won and are often sold at the same stands as tteok-bokki.
Hotteok is a traditional winter snack that is easy to make. In winter, places such as Insa-dong and Namdaemun Market in Seoul are dotted with hotteok vendors serving up these delicious little pancakes. Hotteok is made with dough from glutinous (sticky) rice flour and filled with a spread made from sugar, peanuts, and cinnamon. The round and flat pancakes are then lightly fried in oil. Some of the recent variations include hotteok stuffed with vegetables or seeds. Be careful when you take that first bite, though the brown-sugar filling is delicious, it is often very hot. Like many of the other street foods in Korea, hotteok is a steal at only 700 to 1,000 won apiece.
Hoppang, the pre-cooked treats, are usually warmed in a steamer or microwave before being eaten. Traditionally hoppang is filled with red bean paste, but other fillings include meat, cheese, vegetables, sweet potatoes, pizza toppings, sweet pumpkin, and more. Moreover, the shape of hoppang has become more varied over time.
Hoppang derives its name from the Korean onomatopoeia “ho ho” for blowing on hot food and also from the sound of laughter that comes from a family happily eating hoppang together. Each bun is around 700 to 1,000 won. This tasty treat can be purchased at convenience stores, small independent grocery stores, street vendors, and markets.