Happy 2015 everyone! Hope your new year is off to a wonderful start. A few years ago I shared my top three must-have winter snacks in Korea. Now I’d like to ring in the new year by adding three more to the list!
붕어빵 (Bungeo Bbang)/ 잉어빵 (Eenguh Bbang)
Bungeo bbang literally translates to “crucian carp bread. ” However, don’t let the name intimidate you, the only thing fishy about this snack is its adorable shape. Bungeo bbang was originally introduced as Taiyaki by the Japanese back in the 1930s. Though still very similar, Koreans have modified it slightly to make it their own. Typically, this snack is made with a delicious waffle-like batter and filled with a sweet red bean paste. The perfect bungeo bbang has a lightly crisped outside, soft bready inside and ooey gooey center. If red bean isn’t your thing, you can also commonly find them filled with custard or 슈크림 (chou cream). Usually 3 pieces of these little delights will only run you about ₩1,000, which is not only super cheap, but quite filling. On occasion, you can also find super cute mini versions of this snack at 6 for ₩1,000. These are my favorite since they are perfect for sharing with friends or your significant other. So next time you find yourself out in the freezing cold, let these little guys help warm you up!
계란빵 (Gyeran Bbang)
Gyeran bbang or “egg bread” is perhaps one of my all time favorite snacks to eat during the winter. This snack consists of a lightly sweetened cake-like batter with an egg cooked into it. Most commonly, the batter is poured into a small oval pan and an egg is cracked in and left to bake on top. This is the traditional and my favorite way to have it prepared. There are some vendors who use a waffleiron-type of method and cook the egg in between two layers of batter. Personally, I think the other way has more of a unique visual appeal to it. It’s a simple, but delightful snack. However, recently I’ve noticed vendors jazzing it up a bit by adding an extra ingredient or two. Near 신촌역 (Sinchon Subway Station) there is a vendor who bakes a few jalapeños onto each egg to give it a bit of zing. Near 명동역 (Myeongdong Subway Station) you can find a vendor who bakes a blend of sunflower seeds, peanuts and almonds onto the gyeran bbang to give it a slightly crunchy and salty kick. These “eggcellent” snacks will only run you about ₩2,000, so whether you’ve had them once or 100 times, they’re definitely worth that additional try.
Hotteok is a traditional Korean pancake that is typically filled with with a mixture of honey, brown sugar, chopped peanuts and cinnamon. It is an incredibly popular snack, especially during the winter. You can find vendors all over Korea who sell these sweet treats and you can watch as they prepare small balls of dough, stuff them with the special filling and fry them on a griddle. They are absolutely heavenly when they’re hot off the press! While I enjoy this snack, I do find it overwhelmingly sweet at times. It’s also incredibly greasy. So when it comes to hotteok, I tend to prefer its less common 잡채 (japchae) counter part. The 잡채 호떡 (japchae hotteok) or 야채호떡 (vegetable hotteok) is slightly thicker than the regular hotteok and is stuffed with seasoned stir fried glass noodles, carrots, mushrooms and onions. If it sounds amazing, that’s because it is! It’s a bit harder to find, but luckily there’s this fantastic little shop in 홍대 (Hongdae) called 호떡의 신 that makes the best hotteok (both versions) that I’ve ever had. They will cost you between ₩1,500~₩2,000, they’re always fresh and the older couple who runs the shop is super nice. If you have only one chance to try it, I would definitely recommend this place.
If you’re curious to try these snacks, but don’t plan to be around Korea in the winter do not despair. While these are common winter snacks, you can find them sold all year round. So next time you’re in Korea, be sure to give a couple of these treats a try!