The most beloved snacks, bunsik
Bunsik, literally meaning "food made from flour," is a term that refers to reasonably priced Korean dishes. The most adored bunsik include gimbap, tteokbokki and eomuk (fish cake). Bunsik can easily be found at traditional markets and street vendors that are scattered along the streets of popular tourist attractions or shopping districts.
Gimbap is steamed rice that is covered with laver with different ingredients inside. Rice can be seasoned simply with salt or a mixed seasoning of vinegar, sugar and salt. The rice is then placed on a sheet of laver. Strips of eggs, eomuk, carrot, seasoned spinach and pickled radish are then placed in the middle to be rolled together into a cylinder shape. The roll is then cut into bite-sized pieces. The taste can be quite versatile, depending on the ingredients. Gimbap is a perfect meal option for when you’re on the go!
Buchimgae and jeon refer to many pancake-like dishes in Korean cuisine. Meat, seafood, vegetables and eggs are mixed with flour batter and then pan-fried with oil. Each jeon gets its name from the main ingredient used, such as pajeon (green onion pancake), kimchi jeon (kimchi pancake), and bindaetteok (mung bean pancake). The combination of jeon and makgeolli (Korean rice wine) is Koreans’ favorite meal to have on a rainy day.
Tteokbokki, along with gimbap and eomuk, is one of the most common bunsik sold by street vendors. Rice powder is steamed and made into a long cylinder-shaped rice cake called garaetteok. This rice cake is cut into finger size pieces and cooked in a spicy yet sweet red pepper sauce called gochujang. Additional ingredients such as eomuk and vegetables can be added depending on personal preference.
Sundae is a traditional sausage made of the lining of pig intestines stuffed with a mixture of bean curd, vegetables and glass noodles. It is usually dipped in seasoned salt and in some regions, it is served with ssamjang, a mixed paste of gochujang and doenjang (fermented soybean paste). Sundae can also be made with squid or mixed with glutinous rice.
Eomuk is also referred to as odaeng. Eomuk’s main ingredient consists of ground fish meat. It is usually skewered and boiled in radish and green onion broth. Eomuk is especially popular as a winter snack. Some variants also contain sausage, cheese or rice cakes.
Twigim is the general term for deep fried food covered with a batter of flour and eggs. Squid, dumplings, potatoes, shrimp and assorted vegetables are the usual main ingredients. They taste even better dipped in soy sauce or tteokbokki sauce.
Hotteok are chewy pancakes, usually stuffed with various combinations of sugar and walnuts or pine nuts. A popular street food mostly found in winter, some hotteok are stuffed with vegetables or cheese instead. The dough can come in a unique green color by adding green tea powder.
Jwipo/Dried Squid (쥐포/마른 오징어)
Jwipo is a type of dried fish dipped in a sauce. At street carts, jwipo and dried squid are usually roasted over a bed of pebbles. When grilled, jwipo’s sweet and savory tastes become even more flavorful.
Kkochi refers to cooking skewers of meat. The most common kkochi is dak kkochi, meaning chicken skewers. Small pieces of chicken and vegetables are skewered, coated in sauce, and then grilled. Sausages, fish cakes and tteokgalbi (grilled short rib patties) are also often skewered, adding fun to choosing your own favorite kkochi.
Bungeo ppang/Gukhwa ppang/Gyeran ppang (붕어빵/국화빵/계란빵)
Bungeo ppang gets its name from its fish-like shape, which is especially popular in winter. This sweet snack is molded in the shape of a carp, which is called bungeo in Korean. The pancake batter-like shell is filled with red-bean paste, cream, cheese or sweetened beans and then baked. Gukhwa ppang is shaped like a flower and is slightly smaller than that of the similar tasting bungeo ppang. Gyeran ppang is also made of a pancake batter-like shell, but is filled with an egg during the cooking process instead of a red bean filling.
Hoppang is one of the most popular warm snacks in winter. It is a pre-cooked ball of rice flour with various fillings, such as red bean paste, vegetables or pizza ingredients. Hoppang is usually steamed to keep it warm and is sold on the streets and at convenient stores.
This page was last updated on September 21, 2018, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here.