Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cake ) is the Icon of Street Food
Tteokbokki is the most popular street snack in Korea.Eating spicy tteokbokki (cylinder-shaped rice cake combined with various vegetables and beef, seasoned with spicy sauce, and stir-fried) and gunmandu (fried dumpling) along with fish cake soup is very popular among Korean teenagers. Spicy tteokbokki (rice cake called garaetteok broiled with various vegetables and a hot pepper paste called red pepper paste, and gunmandu (fried dumplings) along with a bowl of warm eomuk (fish cake) soup are the snack foods that are favored by school kids.
- Tteokbokki is known to be Korea’s representative street food, but as Korean food is becoming globalized, tteokbokki is being recognized as an excellent food in terms of taste and nutrition, and a wide variety of tteokbokki is being developed.
Sundae (Korean Blood Sausage) is a Type of Korean Sausage
Sundae is one of Korea’s representative street foods, and it is compatible with tteokbokki. It is made by steaming pig’s intestines that are stuffed with various ingredients such as glass noodles and pork blood to bring out the color and rich taste of this food.
- Sundae is sold along with pork liver or lungs
- Each variety of sundae is named differently depending on the ingredient used to wrap sundae filling (squid sundae or sweet rice sundae) or on the region in which a sundae variety originates (Byeongcheon sundae, which is local specialty of Chungcheong-do; Abai sundae, which is a local specialty of Hamgyeong-do).
Eomuk (Fish Cake) Makes a Perfect Warm Street Snack in the Winter
Eomuk is a processed seafood made of ground fish fillet and other ingredients such as salt, sugar, potato starch, and cooking wine, and it is made into various shapes.
To make an eomuk skewer, boil radish and dried anchovy in water to make the broth. Immerse the eomuk skewer in the broth, and bring to a boil. Eat the eomuk with soy sauce.
- Eomuk digests well and contains a lot of protein.
- Spoils easily, so keep it in the refrigerator.
Nurungji (Scorched Rice), A Sentimental Snack
Nurungji used to be the most common snack in olden times when a wide variety of snacks such as cookies or bread were not readily available. It is also called gamachi or nureunbap. When cooking rice with a traditional Korean pot, as rice absorbs water, little water is left, and nurungji forms at the bottom of the pot.
- People make nurungjibap by adding hot water to the nurungji. The liquid is called sungnyung.
- As nurungji is still popular, people buy it from street vendors or make it at home with a nurungji machine.
- A variety of cookies and candies with the flavor of nurungji are being developed as well.
Ppeongtwigi (Rice Puffs) are Popular Snacks
Ppeongtwigi is an umbrella term for any popped grain, similar to Western popcorn. It is popular especially among women as a low-calorie snack. The kinds of ppeongtwigi found on the street include popped rice, which is called tuibap; popped corn, which is called gangnaengi; and a popped rice cake that is called tteok ppeongtwigi.
- During the 1960s-70s, there used to be many vendors making ppeongtwigi with popping machines at markets.
- Ppeongtwigi is named as such because popping machines make ppeong sound when the lid of the machine is opened.
Kkultaraeyeot is a Stringy and Sweet Korean Snack
Kkultaraeyeot is a kind of sweet snack made by stretching malt out into super thin strands. As a major street snack in Insa-dong, kkultaraeyeot is mixed with almond, cocoa, peanuts, and walnuts.
- The thin strands are made by hand. They are made into more than 16,384 strands, which are as thin as threads of silk.
- Nuts are wrapped within these strands. Kkultaraeyeot is called Yongsuyeom, which means a dragon’s beard.
Hotteok (sugar-filled Korean Pancake) is a Popular Street Snack in the Winter
Hotteok is a unique Korean snack that is made with a wheat dough filled with dark brown sugar, cinnamon, sesame, and chopped peanuts.
- The filled dough is griddled and flattened into a large circle.
- Press the dough with a Hotteok press just enough to get a nice golden crust, flip to the other side until the dough is cooked.
Dalgona, A Nostalgic Sugar Candy
Dalgona is one of the most popular street snacks. It was favored mostly by children in the 1970s and 1980s. Made with melted sugar and baking soda, dalgona is still found in Insa-dong or the Hyundai Department Store area in Sinchon.
- To make Dalgona, pour sugar into a ladle and caramelize the sugar over heat. Add a little baking soda so that it gets puffy.
- Pour it out on a metal sheet, and then press to flatten it.
- Press it into a shape with a frame before it gets hard.
Makgeolli (Rice Wine) is a Traditional Liquor
Makgeolli is listed as intangible cultural heritage and has been handed down from generation to generation. For many, the first traditional Korean liquor that comes to mind is Makgeolli.
- Makgeolli boasts the longest history of Korean liquors. It is not clear how it originated and contains about 6-7% alcohol.
- The brewing of Makgeolli begins with the heating of glutinous rice, non-glutinous rice, barley, and flour. After drying the mixture called jiaebap, nuruk (malt) and water are added and the resultant mixture is fermented at a constant temperature.
- Makgeolli has a blend of various tastes, such as sweet, sour, bitter, and astringent. It is also savory and zesty and is a beloved drink of farmers for quenching their thirst.
Sikhye (Sweet Rice Drink) is a traditional winter beverage and thirst quencher
Sikyhe is a traditional Korean beverage made with steamed sweet rice or rice and fermented in malt water.
- Sikhye contains substances that prevent food from decomposing in our bodies and anti-cancer substances, such as anti-oxidants, which add great medicinal value to Korean food. It also prevents the food you eat from fermenting or decomposing inside of your body.
- Sikhye also contains more dietary fiber than other popular fiber drinks that are currently on the market.
- In addition, sikhye helps balance the body’s constitution by acting as a warming agent if you are cold and as a cooling agent if you are hot.
Sujeonggwa is a traditional Korean Cinnamon Punch
Sujeonggwa is also called sujeongwa. It is a traditional Korean fruit punch with a unique scent created by the sweet flavor of persimmon and the spicy flavor of cinnamon and ginger. To make Sujeonggwa, boil ginger and add sugar. Cool off the ginger tea, and add persimmon and pine nuts to improve the flavor.
- Sujeonggwa means fruits immersed in water. It is usually made for New Year’s Day. It is served cold, like sikhye (Sweet Rice Drink).
- Sujeonggwa is very easy to make.
- Boiling ginger and cinnamon together may reduce their flavor, and may result in bland flavor, so boil them separately and combine them together later to produce a better flavor.