Hit the streets of Korea to learn about Korean food culture! (Language Vine)

A version of this blog can be found on Language Vine

Hit the streets of Korea to learn about Korean food culture!

An excellent way to learn about a culture is through their food. And my favorite way to find the pulse of food culture in Asia is through indulging in the many delectable delights readily available on the street. Contrary to what you may think, most street food is not unsanitary. It’s not even all that scary. It may be a bit mysterious however, so approach it with an open mind.

The typical Korean street food stand generally has a lot of the same items available.

Odeng is the pressed fish cake on a stick. Sometimes it’s folded accordion style and sometimes you’ll find it in a solid cylinder. I like to think of it as a fish hotdog. It’s usually marinating in a salty broth called Odeng mul, which means Odeng water. I like to scoop it into a Dixie cup and sip on a cold day.

Tteokbokki is the spongy rice cakes simmering in red sauce. It can be really spicy. I love it; it’s like the Korean mac and cheese. Tteokbokki usually has large pieces of green onions in it. The stand next to my apartment puts in large pieces of Odeng.

And then there are the fried goodies. I recommend mixing one or two of the fried items with the tteokbokki.

Yatcheh is the random bits of vegetables, battered and fried together in a semi-pancake fashion.

Gimmahree is the little rolls of clear vermicelli noodles wrapped in seaweed, battered and fried.

Ohjingoh is the long strips of squid, battered and fried. One of my favorites to accompan tteokbokki.

Mandu are the dumplings. You typically find kogi mandu, or meat dumplings.

Gogoma is the fried sweet potato.

If you’re feeling adventurous, dip in to the mysterious meat under the plastic cover, in the metal steamer.

Sundae sausage is salted pig intestines, usually stuffed with rice, garlic, blood, green onions, minced meat and the clear vermicelli noodles. People usually eat it alongside slices of liver and lung also found in the steamer. Sounds scary, but honestly, it’s not that bad.

These are the basics, but there is plenty more to discover. All of the above come in various renditions and versions, prepared to the tastes of the ajumma behind the stall. Mix and match your favorites for a cheap, authentic and filling meal.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on September 5, 2010.

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