Korean street food is one of the most matured food scenes in the entire world. Ajusshis (아저씨) or ajummas (아줌마) (older men and women) nestled between an pojangmacha (tented wagon) serving some of the most exquisite fare in the world into the wee hours to hungry Koreans and weary travellers is truly one of life’s simple pleasures. Hitting the streets for a glass of soju and some anju (beer snacks) is a ritual almost religiously observed by the Korean folk. Witness a glimpse into this flourishing culinary experience with these five dishes served fresh off the stove by Korea’s beloved street food vendors.
A runny egg lovingly hugged by a fluffy pancake loaf. I dare you to walk past a gyeran-ppang stall without being lured in with the sweet smell of freshly made bread. The adorable egg bread is made on a dedicated Gyeranppang machine, where the batter bakes over a slotted griddle.
A Korean Sundae is neither sweet nor comes with hot fudge. Before you get put off by this blood sausage made with pig intestines, be sure to try it out. This is authentic Korean food. Miss it and you forego the true Korean culinary experience. In its most popular form it is a spiced, yet mildly flavored snack made with cellophane noodles and glutinous rice, however other varieties exist including those made with squid, or kimchi fillings. But the most popular recipes have stood the test of time and are likely straight out of a 19th century Goryeo cookbook. With a similar history as European sausages, sundae grew out of a need for food preservation (apart from fermentation) when fresh food was scarce and winters were long within the Korean heartland.
Fishcakes called Eomuk were originally an artefact of the Japanese occupation. However, home-grown variants such as the Samjin Fish Cake (the oldest fish cake factory in Korea) slowly started to gain traction from the seaside city of Busan. This dish became a somber reminder of the devastating Korean War when many refugees landed in the province learning, cultivating and consuming the dish. Today, this past is long forgotten when modern Koreans enjoy eomuk in heart-warming soups in wintertime. Even to this day, the Samjin Fish Cake runs full steam ahead with a dedicated museum celebrating the dish’s rich history.
The name Dak-kkochi literally means chicken skewer and is a skewered dishes also enjoyed in a similar manner. Smoky skewered chicken alternated by slices of scallion, smothered with thick and sticky sauce. You can spot this crowd favorite in Korea’s big city with your eyes shut. While similar to the Japanese yakitori, Dak-kkochi sets itself apart from its Japanese cousin by featuring a characteristically Korean sauce. This sauce is the winning combo of gochujang, garlic and sesame oil. Name a better trio, I’ll wait!
Eat your way through the Korea’s hip food scenes without stepping outside of Melbourne at Miss Korea Kitchen 288.