I spent a few days in Seoul during my winter holidays and had a good time sampling some Korean fare. There was a lot of bimbimbap (비빔밥), soup, and kimchi (김치), especially kimchi. Thankfully, I grew quite fond of it because there were hardly any meals served without a dish of spicy red veggies that waiters were only too happy to replenish. Here are a few highlights:
Mandu (만두), dumplings, are somewhat popular in Korean cuisine. The mandu depicted above were steamed, though it is common for these dumplings to be served pan-friend or in soups. Different mandu are typically eaten depending on the season, like the gyuasang (규아상), which is traditionally a summer dumpling. And of course, there was kimchi.
A tourist in Korea isn’t a real tourist if he/she doesn’t give Korean barbecue—gogi gui (고기구이)—a try. Marinated beef and pork short ribs and jumulleok (주물럭) definitely made their way onto our grill.
A detour away from the higher profile restaurant eats will spotlight some exciting streetside-vendor fare. Hotteok (호떡), pictured above, and bungeoppang (붕어빵) are rather commonplace. Hotteok are chewy griddlecakes with a sweet filling of cinnamon, honey and brown sugar; a welcome comfort food on chilly winter nights.
Various jeon are also part of the streetfood scene. Jeon are egg batter based and feature meats, seafood or vegetables as its partner ingredients; they are reminiscent of Japanese okonomiyaki. The nokdujeon (빈대떡) shown in the photo is made of fish, squid and octopus.
Carts selling tentacles of octopus and squid prepared fried and roasted littered the street vendor avenues.
A warm bowl of just-sweet-enough patjuk (팥죽) at a very tucked-away tea house made the arduous journey of finding it worthwhile. This adzuki porridge is a classic during winter time and is said to be helpful in steering away bad fortune and the like.
If you happen upon these lumpy oranges in South Korea, they are actually kind of a delicacy. These engineered orange fruits are seedless and sweeter than oranges, but typically much more expensive. The hallabong (한라봉) can be quite hard to come by, but they’ll usually sneak their way into supermarket produce sections more frequently when the new year is nigh.
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