December 11, 2015
Wow, it has been ages since we last made a video on Korean Street Food. Our last video was filmed way back in Bucheon on our little point-and-shoot camera and it’s so grainy! I wonder how many of you remember that…
Not much has changed regarding what you can find at a Korean street food stall, but we have come to realize how much we love that specific one in Bucheon. There were many different street food stalls in Bucheon, but that particular one beside the mall was top notch. As you try different street food all over Korea, you come to realize that duck (the rice noodles) can be overcooked and become soggy. The sauce can be too watered down and be tasteless. The deep fried food can be too deep fried and dry and yes, the broth for the fish cakes vary in complexity.
I think what sets the Bucheon street food stand apart from the others is that the ahjumma in Bucheon used whole crab, seaweed, radishes, and hot peppers which you could see floating in the big soaking broth basket which held the fish cakes. This flavour soaked into the fish cake and she used it to add to the ddukbokki sauce which in turn made the spicy sauce that much richer. But if you don’t try many food stands in Korea, you may never get the chance to try these subtle changes and differences. We feel the same yearning for the Taiwan night market where we need to go back and sample 15 of the exact same dumping at different stalls to see if we can find the best! One day Taiwan…we’ll be back.
When Jaws first came out, we were still living in Bucheon. I remember the first time Simon and I went to one and were very very doubtful of it’s quality. We were blown away by the great flavour of the spicy sauce and the perfectly cooked dduk. Since then, Jaws has really blown up and we started to see them all over Seoul. Now they’re everywhere and I think they are a very decent representation of street food in Korea and at a reasonable price. This whole meal cost us around $13.00 which is pretty darn awesome. Sure, you may not be sitting at a charming plastic wrapped tent in the winter while you huddle over you cup of hot fish broth, but if you have that hankering for street food in the middle of the day, this is the place to go. Oh, most street stands are not open during the day which is why I mentioned that. With that being said, here are some terms that might help those of you new to Korea or visiting Korea to get you more comfortable with ordering street food at either Jaws or at a street stall.
떡볶이 Rice Noodles in Hot Sauce
어묵 Savoury Fish Cake (the Korean version)
오뎅 Technically the Japanese term for 어묵 but it is still used frequently in Korea
유부 주머니 Tofu Pockets filled with Clear Sweet Potato Noodles (never seen these available on the street)
순대 Korean Blood Sausage (you can get both blood sausage and steamed liver served with salt for dipping)
튀김 Deep Fried Stuff (this is the general name for deep fried stuff)
If you want to have a mixture of deep fried stuff, you can ask for 모듬 튀김 which means “mixed deep fried stuff” and the worker will just give you a mixture of all of them. Some 튀김 are more expensive than others, so they usually have a sign explaining “these five for this price” “these three for this price” and so on.
김말이 – Sweet potato noodles wrapped in seaweed
새우 – shrimp
단호박 – sweet pumpkin
오징어 – squid
만두 – mandu (the kind at street stalls are usually veggie with meat and noodles)
고추 – green pepper
고구마 – sweet potato
깻잎 – sesame leaf stuffed with mind meat
I hope this helps you feel more confident with eating magical and wonderful Korean street food! Keep in mind that not all stands will have any signs written in Korea, so you might want to keep this list on your phone or write it down if you want to make sure you know what you’re getting. If all else fails, just point and signal how many you want. Happy eating!