중앙데일리

Street food can be scrumptious

Dec 29,2007
Fishcakes at Myeongdong By Lee Eun-joo
Jose Vila, a Portuguese, was in Myeongdong, central Seoul, with his Korean friend. Feeling adventurous, Vila decided to try some street food ubiquitous across Korea. He was reluctant at first thinking it wouldn’t be hygienic. But his worries were gone once he had a mouthful of Korean-style fishcake. Immediately, he put his thumbs up. Fishcake is served on a wooden skewer. It is also called “hot-bar” by many Koreans. The taste, Vila says, is similar to okonomiyaki, dubbed the Japanese pizza, except fishcake is softer and more seasoned.
The taste is attributed to Kim Soon-ki, 49, and Park Seo-hwa, 50, the couple who own the stall. They have been selling fishcakes for six years. Kim can make a fishcake in two seconds. They fry the fish paste in clean oil and the food contains no preservative. Kim proudly said that they don’t fry with the oil more than twice.
Fishcake is healthier and more nutritious than fast food. Onions, corn, Korean leeks and carrots are mixed with the paste that is 80 percent red snapper and 20 percent flour. “Using flour instead of starch powder is our secret recipe,” Kim said. He said starch makes the fishcake tough. There are four types: vegetable, sesame leaf, sausage and a piece of tteok (Korean rice cake) for 1,000 won each.
Euljiro 1-ga Station, line No. 2, exit 5.

Hotteok at Insa-dong By Lee June-sung
Though Christmas was relatively warm, the weatherman forcasts that it will be icy cold this weekend. But don’t worry.
All you need is a bite of steamy hotteok, or Korean-style pancake stuffed with sugar and peanuts, to keep you warm at heart.
When you walk along the Ssamji-gil in Insa-dong toward Jongno, central Seoul, on your left across from “Gallery Sang” is a little hotteok stall.
Though it’s small, you can’t miss the place because it’s packed with customers craving to taste the snack. (Just in case, “Teolbonae Hotteok” is written on a red placard.)
Teolbonae Hotteok boasts a 10-year tradition and is owned by the Moon family.
Waiting in line during the wintry weather is worth it. Unlike other hotteok, the dough at Teolbonae is made of corn powder.
That’s why the color is brown or dark yellow rather than white. The donut-sized hotteok is also thicker and chewier.
Moon In-ja, the owner, resembles an old and generous granny.
She mixes wheat flour, glutinous rice flour and corn powder with a dash of peas. She seasons the dough with salt and sugar.
Teolbonae hotteok is crispy on the outer shell and chewy on the inside. It’s worth a bite for 700 won each.
Anguk Station, line No. 3, exit 2.

Kneading grilled meat By Lee Eun-joo
It’s been 13 years since Lee Sung-jin began selling items on the street, starting with flowers and accessories in central Myeong-dong. Now he sells tteokgalbi, and he’s more than satisfied.
He started selling tteokgalbi, or grilled minced meat, six months ago.
“Tteokgalbi is affordable and at the same time filling,” Lee said, boasting that he does not use frozen meat.
“It is different from the processed food you see today,” he said.
A thin layer of mixed beef and pork covers each finger-sized rice cake before it is put on the grill. After barbecuing the oval-shaped meat for five minutes, it is dipped into the sauce of choice ― very spicy, slightly spicy or sweet. Tteokgalbi tastes similar to barbecue chicken but is richer in flavor and more tender.
Lee says the sauce is the secret recipe that keeps people addicted to tteokgalbi. Unlike grilled chicken served on a skewer, tteokgalbi is easier to eat and more nutritious since the meat paste contains chopped vegetables.
There are many stalls that sell tteokgalbi ― in front of Ewha Womans University, Namdaemun, Sinchon, Hongdae and Jongno. Lee’s stall is growing and may become a full-fledged franchise. The skewers are 1,000 won each.
Euljiro 1-ga Station, line No. 2, exit 5.

Tornado potatoes By Lee Eun-joo
Check out the latest street snack ― tornado potatoes.
Spiral-cut potatoes are skewered on a wooden stick and then deep fried and dusted with tangy cheese powder. Since it’s fried, you may think it won’t do you any good if you’re on a diet, but it isn’t that harmful. They use clean oil and no additives.
Chung Yong-woon, 29, guarantees it. He’s been selling tornado potatoes at Myeong-dong for eight months. The snack emerged early this spring and demand is growing.
The peculiar potato shape whets people’s curiosity.
Chung says, “The snack isn’t common so people stop by to take a look.”
Chung uses a machine to spiral cut the Pyeongchang-cultivated potatoes, then fixes them on a wooden stick. The thin, curved potato is fried until it’s crisp and then dipped into yellow cheese powder sauce. There are also bulgogi or roast beef options, but most people prefer the cheese.
“You don’t know which oil the fast food chains use when making french fries,” Chung said.
“Why not taste our tornado potatoes and give yourself a break from McDonald’s,” he suggests. Tornado potatoes go for 1,000 won each.
Euljiro 1-ga Station, line No. 2, exit 5.

Traditional honey snacks By Lee Eun-joo


By Lee Eun-joo Contributing Writer


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