Are you a Foodie? Looking for something different and unique to eat? Then check out “10 Must-Eat Korean Street Foods Part 1 (Savory)” and see how we do street food here in Korea. In part one of this series, we cover our favorite savory Korean Street Foods…
- Eomuk- Korean Fish Cakes
- Tteok-bokki- Fried Rice Cakes in Red Pepper Sauce
- Twigim- or Korean Tempura Fried Foods
- Gamja-Hotdog- Korean Corn Dogs
- Dak-kkochi – Korean Chicken Skewers or Kebabs
About Korean Street Food
Like all Korean Cuisine, Korean Street Food has been heavily influenced by the country’s history, particularly the 20 year famine. Rather than allow its struggles to define them however, Korea found new ways to incorporate flavor making the most of the ingredients they could find.
I guess that is why this food is so near and dear to my heart, like me, the Korean mindset is to find a way to make the struggle of everyday life more fun. Well, the result could not have turned out better as you read about the amazing food below. Take a look at these five dishes and soon I will post part 2, the sweet side of Korean street food… See you soon!!!
1. Eomuk- Korean Fish Cakes
In Korea, one of the most popular street foods is Eomuk, a fish cake made with pureed or minced white fish mixed with starch, flour and sometimes egg then rolled out flat, sliced and fried. It is then soaked in a vegetable and seafood broth until consumed. It is typically eaten with a side of the broth in a cup which is then sipped. It is considered a great way to stay warm during the Wintertime.
Wherever you go in Korea, you will find small, neighborhood stalls selling Eomuk and often Twigim or Korean fried foods (see below). It is a staple, and every neighborhood has their favorite shop. The food gained popularity after the 20 year famine following the Korean War. At the time, people struggled to find an adequate supply of food and by adding inexpensive starch and flour, they were able to stretch out the fish they purchased or caught.
Although many people believe that Eomuk has a Chinese or Japanese origin, historians have found recipes for an Eomuk style dish date back to 1392 during the Joseon Dynasty. Today, however, Busan is famous as the birthplace of Eomuk and boasts the first National Factory to produce the product. If you are planning on visiting Korea, Eomuk is a “Must-Eat Street Food” that you need to try.
For more information follow the following link:
2. Tteok-bokki- Fried Rice Cakes in Red Pepper Sauce
Tteok-bokki has long held a place in the hearts of the residents of Korea. Recipes for the dish date back to the 1400’s where a Joseon Dynasty doctor discussed the healing properties of byeongja a fore runner to the dish that combined rice cakes fried in oil with meat and peppers.
While the dish was originally a food associated with royalty or people of great means, that all changed after the Korean War, when most foods were in short supply, but flour and pepper sauce were two of the few ingredients still readily available.
Although today, the fried rice cakes served smothered in red pepper sauce are commonly found in most Korean households. Legend has it that this incredible dish was actually the result of a kitchen accident when Ma Bok Lim, dropped a rice cake by mistake into her red pepper hot sauce in Seoul’s Sindang neighborhood. The rest is history and now Sindang-dong is better known as Tteok-bokki Town.
While the traditional way Tteokbokki is served features rice cakes smothered in gochujang, a spicey Korean red pepper sauce, with other ingredients added like fish cakes, and/or eggs, there are other variations available as well. These include:
- Cheese tteok-bokki- where the rice cake or tteok is filled with cheese or the sauce is made with cheese.
- Ra-bokki- which adds Ramen Noodles to the dish and sometimes is topped with a slice of cheese
- Jeukseok-tteok-bokki- which also adds noodles as well as veggie and dumplings to make it more of a meal.
- Gireum tteok-bokki- a stir Fried version of the dish
For more information click on the following link:
3. Twigim- or Korean Tempura Fried Foods
Twigim refers to a variety of fried foods including Egg Plant, Octopus, Crab, Shrimp, and Veggie Pancakes to name a few. The fried food is then dipped in a soy-based sauce or in gochujang a Korean red pepper sauce if the establishment sells Tteok-bokki. Twigim stands abound throughout Korea and are one of the most popular street foods.
While this style of fried food is most often associated with the Japanese, it turns out that while the term Tempura is associated with Japan, actually takes its name from the Latin phrase “ad tempora cuaresme”, which means “in the time of Lent” as it was the Portuguese sailors that introduced to the Japanese to the cooking technique as they used it to cook shrimp on their boats during lent.
Wherever it originated, today, Twigim is a Must Eat Korean Street Food.
For more information regarding the differences between Tempura and Twigim as well as a recipe, check out the following link:
4. Gamja-Hotdog- Korean Corn Dog
While Corn Dogs have been in Korea for since the early 1980s, recently there has been a resurgence in their popularity thanks to some creative reimagining by local proprietors. While the original Korean Corn Dog was a hotdog served on a stick dipped in batter or dough with a corn meal crust then fried and served sprinkled with sugar and topped with your choice of ketchup, mustard, today, the dish has been transformed by creative entrepreneurs.
These creative concoctions include my personal favorite, which is ½ hotdog, ½ Mozzarella cheese, all covered in dough, rolled in diced sweet potatoes and then breaded and fried and served sprinkled with sugar and sometimes even cinnamon.
The madness does not stop there, there number of flavor and ingredient combinations can be mind numbing and includes various cheeses, rice cakes, and more. Sauces have gone from ketchup and mustard to Wasabi and squid ink bases to name a couple.
Even the traditional dough and batter can be modified as some places now wrap the dog in Ramen before frying them. No matter how you prefer your hot dogs, there is likely a match for you. That is why the Gamja-Hotdog makes my list of Must Eat Korean Street foods.
For more information click on the following link:
5. Dak-kkochi – Korean Chicken Skewers or Kebabs
If you are like me, you can surely appreciate a skewer of tasty grilled meat, whether it is chicken, beef, lamb etc… Back home, in the Philippines, families pride themselves on their BBQ recipes.
Like other countries, Korea also a tradition of BBQ that goes back to the days of the Mongol invasion. While meat dishes like Bulgogi predate the invasion by many centuries, the period between featured a near ban on meat as Korean society and cuisine were heavily influenced by Buddhism.
The Mongol invasion brough with it meat cooked over a fire which remains a significant influence on the country’s culinary scene. This evolved into Korean BBQ and its street version, Dak-kkochi.
While Dak-kkochi is similar to other skewered meat dishes like Japanese Yakitori, what truly sets it apart is the sauce.
While there are different flavors available, ranging from sweet to spicy, each is uniquely Korean and truly makes this dish special and a Must Eat Street Food.
For more information regarding the influences of Korean Cuisine, click on the following link: https://www.kikkoman.co.jp/kiifc/foodculture/pdf_04/e_002_006.pdf
Other Kkoch available are Octopus, Conch, Tteok (Rice Cake Skewers), So-tteok (Rice Cake and Vienna Sausage Skewers) and Maekjeok (Doenjang Pork Skewers) just to name a few.
6. Jeon- Korean Pancakes
Jeon is a Korean fritter or pancake and is often served as an accompaniment to other larger dishes being served, or is eaten as a light snack. One of the more famous jeon dishes is pajeon which features green onions as pa means scallions. Pajeon- Haemul is a fritter or pancake with onions and seafood and is very popular. Another popular type of jeon is Bindaetteok or Nokdu-Jeon which is a mung bean pancake.
Join me later this week for part 2 where I will cover the Sweet side of Korean Street Food… Also, if you enjoyed the post, please click the like button, make a comment below and/or subscribe to my Blog and Facebook page. Thanks again and let’s find new ways to make the most out of life’s everyday moments!!!!