Taste of Korea: 7 winter street foods you should try

Photo by ChiHon Kim 
Photo by ChiHon Kim 

Taste of Korea: 7 winter street foods you should try

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

What comes to mind when winter brings a chill to everything in its wake? It could be soft, warm sweaters or a cozy blanket. But for me, hot street food that gives off a lot of steam is what I think about. Delicious winter street food is one thing that makes me look forward to the cold season. There are many decent restaurants that serve up warm dishes, but some of Korea’s best winter food can be found on streets and in alleys. Here are my favorite Korean winter street foods. Give them a try!

 

1. Bungeoppang (붕어빵)

Bungeoppang, or red bean-filled pastry, is a fish-shaped cake you can easily find on the street when the weather gets cold. This very popular dessert was created in Japan in the early 1900s and was introduced to this country during the Japanese colonial period.

It is crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and very addictive. Basically, mildly sweet red bean paste is stuffed into a flour skin and then cooked together. Recently, it has evolved into many variations with different ingredients. Creative street vendors stuff the cake with sweet potatoes, custard cream, ice cream, and even chopped kimchi. Personally, nothing can beat the custard cream.

Price: Price range from 1,000 won (or 0.84$) to 2,000 won for around three to five.

Where to buy bungeoppang in Pyeongtaek?

It’s easy to find a cart vender selling the sweet winter specialty near grocery stores and in traditional markets. If you’re living near Camp Humphreys, you can enjoy the treat in the humble eatery that has a yellow wall behind the Hanaro Mart. NAVER map pin

Though carts that offer Bungeoppang do not have a regular location, you might find a food cart around Sujeong drug store(수정약국) in the Anjeong shopping-ro district. My favorite place is Songtan bungeoppang(송탄붕어빵) in the SED (Songtan Entertainment District) near Osan Air Base. NAVER map pin


Photo by ChiHon Kim 

2. Gyeranppang (계란빵)

I still remember vividly the sensation after biting into this egg bread in Seoul about 10 years ago. I was on the way to a job interview, but I felt like I was going to keel over from hunger. I was running out of time to eat a full meal at a restaurant, however, I noticed a small food cart on the street, so I grabbed a mini loaf of bread on the cart and crammed it into my mouth.

I had never seen nor tasted that kind of bread until then. It was soft, fluffy, and savory with a whole egg inside the pancake-like dough. The heavenly soft bread not only indulged my weary soul but satisfied my hunger. It was really tasty!

Until 2000, the egg bread was mostly sold in Seoul and Gyeonggido region. For me, born and raised in Gyeongsang-do, it was no wonder that I had no chance to taste egg bread until that time. Thanks to the egg bread, I filled my tummy and even got the job! So, for me, this bread is a symbol of good luck.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find carts that bake this bread around my current home, but I’m always on the lookout.

Price: Price range from 1,000 won (or 0.84$) or 2,000 won for a loaf of bread.

Where to buy egg bread in Pyeongtaek?

You may find this bread with comparative ease if you’re living in a big city. Or you may find it around a grocery store if you live in a rural area.

* Woori Bank near Tongbok Market - NAVER map 경기 평택시 중앙로 31

*  Pyenogtaek Bus Terminal - NAVER map 경기 평택시 평택로 31

*  il deung-Mart in Godeok  (일등마트) - NAVER map 경기 평택시 새말로 17

*  Seong-gyeong Mart (성경마트) near Osan AB - NAVER map 경기 평택시 서정로 209

*  Bagae hospital(박애병원) – NAVER map 경기 평택시 평택로 20번길


Photo by ChiHon Kim 

3. Gunbam (군밤)

Though gunbam (or roasted chestnuts) is a beloved street food in Korea, I rarely see vendors selling fresh-roasted nuts these days. Maybe because air fryers and electric ovens in most of the households took chestnut vendors’ jobs away.  Another reason could be that selling roasted chestnuts on street corners on cold winter nights does not in itself guarantee an adequate income.

Whatever the reason may be, it is certain that it takes much effort to find a spot where chestnut vendors set up stalls to sell their freshly roasted wares. The other day, I accidentally noticed one old chestnut vendor who was spinning a rotary roasting basket on the street right in front of the parking lot of Tongbok traditional market. The seductive smell from the grill reminded me of walking the streets near my old home in Daegu. I could not help myself, so I bought a bag. If you’re not familiar with the taste of the roasted nuts, you may be surprised by the slightly sweet taste and tender texture.

Price range from 3,000 won to 5,000 won for one bag (Price may vary depending on the weight of the chestnuts).

Where to buy gunbam in Pyeongtaek?

*  Opposite site of the Tongbok traditional market parking lot - NAVER map pin 경기 평택시 통복시장로21번길 17 (KOR)

*  Street right in front of Good Morning Hospital- NAVER map pin 경기 평택시 중앙로 338(KOR)


Photo by ChiHon Kim 

4. Gungoguma (군고구마)​​​​​​​

A common sight during winter in Korea, gungoguma, or roasted sweet potato, has reddish skin and a golden inside. This nutritious winter food is roasted slowly in a big oil drum at low temperatures until the center becomes tender inside. While they were typically sold by street vendors in the past, the sweet winter specialty also can now be found at convenience stores.
Price range from 2,000 won to 5,000 won for one roasted sweet potato.

Where to buy gungoguma in Pyeongtaek?
If you can’t find the big oil drum where the raw sweet potatoes change into winter specialty on the street, you can pick it up at almost any convenience store such as GS25 and Seven-Eleven. 


Photo by 123RF

5. Hotteok (호떡) 

You can’t talk about winter street food without Hotteok. Hotteok is a popular Korean pancake made from simple yeast dough (or glutinous rice flour dough) with a sweet syrupy filling made with brown sugar, cinnamon, seeds, and walnuts.

I don’t know why, but many vendors deep-fry their hotteok in a square pot that is full of oil. Perhaps it’s because many folks love the deep-fried one. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll crave it often because deep-fried hottoek seems not only too oily, but a bit soggy.

Though my ideal form of hotteok is a thin pan-fried hotteok that has a slightly crispy texture, it’s difficult for me to find a place that offers pan-fried nowadays. If you happened to know any place that has delicious pan-fried hotteok, please reach out to me. No kidding!

Price range from 1,000 won to 2,000 won for one piece.

Where to buy hotteok in Pyeongtaek?

*  Tongbok Traditional Market – NAVER MAP pin 경기 평택시 중앙1로 16-1 (KOR)

*  Sinjangdong Hotteok near Osan AB – NAVER MAP 경기 평택시 복창로 58-36 (KOR)


Photo by 123RF

6. Hoppang (호빵)

Hoppang (or jjinppang) is a popular bread made of wheat flour dough and is typically filled with smooth and sweetened red bean paste.

While jjinppang literally means steamed bread, hoppang is a kind of microwave-ready jjinppang version produced from a food factory, so you need to steam or microwave the hoppang to enjoy at your home. Practically, there are no significant differences in meaning between the two names of the bread, so it’s okay whether you call it hoppang or jjinppang.

You can’t judge the taste of hoppang without having it stuffed with classic sweetened red bean paste, but also an amazing variety of fillings such as vegetables, pizza, sweet potatoes, curry, rice cakes, spicy chicken and even Hershey chocolate.

Price range from 1,500 won to 2,000 won for a loaf of bread.


Photo by ChiHon Kim 

Where to buy hoppang in Pyeongtaek?

Hoppang is usually found in Korean grocery stores and convenience stores. Many convenience stores sell steamed hoppang in a food display steamer during the winter season. If you’re looking for jjinppang, you can pick it up at almost any dumpling place.

7. Odeng (오뎅)

This is my favorite comfort food for the winter season. If you can see your breath outside, then it’s an odeng season! This soft winter food originated from Japan and the word “odeng” itself comes from the Japanese word “oden.”

The fish cake is usually made of several ingredients such as boiled eggs and ground seafood and typically served on a skewer in a light, soy sauce-flavored stock. It can be a bit fishy, but dipping it in a soy sauce or spicy tteokbokki sauce is a great way to improve the taste.

Though most Koreans use the Japanese word, some Korean language purists insist to use the Korean word – “eomok.” No matter what it is called, the delicious quick bite that only costs 1,000 won will give you a lot of bang for your buck.

Price range from 500 won to 1,000 won for one skewer.

Where to buy odeng in Pyeongtaek?

Various places. You can find it at food trucks on the street or at convenience stores.


Photo by 123RF

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