As the weather becomes colder, the leaves start turning red, and the sweaters come out of our closets, the arrival of autumn brings about many things to look forward to: a decrease of mosquitos, pumpkin spice is everywhere, bonfire season, an ever-approaching Halloween...and most importantly, warm scrumptious snacks that we have craved all summer long. Korea knows the importance of seasonal snacks, and when the leaves start to fall, the food trucks change their menus to give people these beloved snacks, and not only warm their hands, but also their hearts. Here is a list of autumn snacks made in Korea that everyone must try at some point.
Bungeo-ppang is amongst one of the most famous Korean snacks, and best street foods out there. It might be shaped like a fish, but do not be fooled, there is no fish flavoring in this snack! The batter is a mix between Western waffle batter, and Eastern dumplings; the filling is red bean paste, brought over by the Japanese. Together, they make these highly-recognisable and loved snacks, which are popular everywhere.
In fact, in almost every market and food area in Japan, you will most likely find these Korean delicacies, as they were a hit in the neighbouring country. The traditional filling is red bean paste, and it is the favourite filling in South Korea; however other fillings have been made depending on the country’s tastes: Japan has popularised a custard filling, whilst the United States often uses nutella and strawberry jam.
Similar to these, there are also gukhwa-ppang. This translates to chrysanthemum bread, which is a type of flower with many petals. The pastry is shaped like a flower and is stuffed with red bean paste.
These roasted sweet potatoes are popular in the colder weather, and Koreans absolutely love them. What is better about this snack? It’s really healthy and super cheap because it’s literally just roasted sweet potato! A simple, easy-to-make-and-eat snack, its vendors wear ushanka, a specific roasted sweet potato vendor hat. Spot an ushanka, and you have yourself a delicious warm snack! Sometimes you will walk down the streets of Korea and you will see big drum cans used to roast the sweet potatoes in a specific way and create gungoguma.
Sometimes, vendors dry the roasted sweet potatoes so they last longer, and create slices of scrumptious gungoguma-mallaengi. When the weather is still warm, the roasted sweet potatoes are frozen, creating the easiest ice-lolly ever: ice-gungoguma.
If you like Japanese culture, you have probably heard of the famed yakitori. But did you know Koreans have their own version that is equally as mouth-watering? That’s right, dak-kkochi is a chicken skewer, grilled right in front of you! The chicken is usually marinated in sweet and salty sauce, or spicy sauce (depending on your preference), and at the end you can choose to add spicy BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, or mustard. It is so easy to eat, well-priced, and heavenly tasting. A perfect snack!
This snack is probably the least popular outside of Asia, and one where you need to get over the fact that you’re eating bugs! Beondegi is boiled and seasoned silkworm pupae, and a popular snack sold in the streets of Korea. In fact, it is not uncommon to see large cauldrons of boiling silkworm pupae in markets or street food areas of South Korea. They also have a very strong odour, which can often be off-putting for first-timers.
These little beasts have quite a pungent and bitter taste, and when you bite into them they pop in your mouth, like bubble tea! If you are not used to eating bugs, you will most likely have to acquire the taste, but once you get over the odd texture, you will be craving this snack. The pros of purchasing these: it is so cheap, a cup-full is around $1; it is healthy as it is filled with good nutrients, especially protein; and it is environmentally-friendly, as it takes much less resources to grow them than any other protein based food like animals or soy beans.
Egg bread is not an uncommon thing to see in many different cultures. There is challah, a Jewish dish that uses eggs to make a type of bread with a soft texture, almost cake-like; there is the South American pan de huevo, to give bread a sweet (and yellow) twist; or French toast, where old bread is soaked in an eggy mix and fried or baked. Koreans also have their own recipe for egg bread, and it is called gyeran-ppang.
It is essentially a sweet and savoury pancake mix, filling up half a cupcake tray, and then the egg yolk, with a tiny bit of egg white is carefully placed on top, and baked. You could call it the pied piper of street food, as the fragrance is good enough to attract tourists and locals, making a very popular food truck!
Hotteok is a Korean pancake, traditionally with an amazing filling of sugar, honey, peanuts and cinnamon. Perfect for cold weather, this snack will warm your heart up any day, as it is both warm and soothingly delicious. Other, newer fillings include green tea, bokbunja (Korean blackberry), pizza, and much more, enough for everyone’s preferred tastes. The snack also features in a famous Korean saying that goes: “the hotteok store is burning,” which refers to noisy situations. With the popularity of this snack, when you are waiting for your hotteok, you will be thinking about the saying!
This concludes our list of amazing Korean street snacks for autumn! Food trucks are increasingly popular in western countries now, but do not yet compare to the food truck culture in Asia. Hygienic, delicious and cheap, it is a whole different experience to go to a street food area such as Gwangjang or Myeongdong in Seoul. Here is a video of a food tour in Myeongdong:
What food have you tried? Which one do you really want to try? Have you been to a Korean street food market? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by Lucille Bamber