Thursday, June 9, 2011

On the Road . . . Korea: Vendor Food, Pt. 2

Korean sweets give new meaning to the word sweet.  It is not a cloying sweet, but a sweet that you feel in the center of your teeth.  What makes their sweets so interesting to me is that the sweet can be offset with texture or sometimes a little bit of salty sesame or nuts.  The sweets I came in contact with were also honey based, which gives the sweet more nuances than just lots of white sugar. 
Raspberries and Cherries
These aren’t so specially different or new, but I loved all the fresh raspberry and cherry vendors in Korea.  3,000 Won (or about $3) gets you a pretty big cup full of bright red tart seduction.  

Waffles and Bungeoppang
I was on the go so this picture didn’t come out so well.  Waffles are big in Korea.  They come with ice cream and gelato and then on the street, folded in half with creamy honey and a shmear of a less tangy version of cream cheese--crunchy, slightly sweet, delicious.  Also at the stand was Bungeoppang, or little fish shaped waffles made in a mold and filled with red bean paste.  Also delicious. 

Ggul Tteok (or "tteok with honey")
This is tteok in yet another form.  This time, it surrounds a liquid honey gel that oozes out of a gummy, squishy case.  The green ones also have mugwart and provide a herbiness to offset the sweet.  

Sweet Potato Bubble Tea
I got this on my last day.  Sweet potato is a very common flavor in Korea and seems to be all over the place in snacks, desserts, pastries, everywhere!  This Bubble Tea did taste just like candied sweet potatoes. Why it was purple, I could not say.   But, it was so refreshing with the tapioca pearls and hit really the spot after a meal of kimchi soup.   I really wish I could get this in America. 
This is one of the more exciting sweet vendor foods because it is both tasty and comes with a show.  We found several of these stalls in the touristy shopping districts of Seoul.  Although termed on the box a “cake” and also called a "cookie," it is more like candy to me. 
The demonstration of making them is half of the fun.  The candy is made from taking a hardened honey and pulling it in a taffy pull manner.  The key difference is the addition of corn starch that somehow magically keeps each pull from binding together, resulting in a final product made of hair thin strands of honey.  The threads are then wrapped around sweetened peanuts and sesame seeds or almonds and sesame seeds.  I tried both and was more partial to the peanut version. 
This is a video of making the strands, but on the left you can see one of the guys making the final version.    

Coming up next . . . watch me face my "food courage" by eating live octopus. 

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  1. The sweet potato bubble tea was probably made with purple yam. If you google it you'll find loads of desserts that take advantage of it's intense colour. Wish I could try it for myself it sounds delish!


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