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Bites of Seoul street food: Sweet and Savory

More rice cakes in spicy sauce

I ate all kinds of street food while I was in Seoul, not just hotteoks, walnut cakes and tornado potatoes. I would have dedicated a single post to every item, but to be honest, there were some that I just didn’t know enough about to justify doing so! So, I decided to put a little of everything into one post to give you a little more insight into what some of Seoul street food is like. Keep in mind that there is a lot more out there than this, but these are definitely some popular options that I saw – and ate – again and again.

Rice cakes in spicy sauce!

This is a serving of rice cakes in hot sauce (ddeokbokee, I think), and the picture at the top of the post is the tray of rice cakes and hot sauce at a vendor’s stand. The rice cakes are sort of like huge, thick chewy noodles and the sauce is hot – both temperature-wise and spice-wise! This particular batch also had fish paste and some cut up sausages in there.

Street fishcakes

Don’t be fooled by the corndog-like appearance of these snacks-on-sticks. The lower skewer is some sort of fish paste mixed with vegetables and fried, while top the top skewer has the same mixture wrapped around a hot dog. Since there is no coating, these aren’t crispy, but they do have a nice texture and a slightly fishy flavor. The hot dog version was my favorite since it was a bit saltier. Both were good with hot sauce.

Sausages and rice cakes

This skewer is stacked with three types of sausages, one of which was meat wrapped around a rice cake and fried. No idea what kind of sausages or meat (pork, if I had to guess), but with the bit of bbq sauce that the vendor put on, these were delicious.

fish paste on skewers

You shouldn’t have any problems finding this dish. It’s very simple: fish paste on a stick in a lightly flavored broth. the broth is usually served in a cup with the stick of fish paste. I saw this at upscale department stores and on the street. It’s not fancy, but satisfying and fairly light. The broth is really nice as a light soup if it’s chilly outside. If you’re not a big fan of fish, the flavor is not strong and similar to a mild miso soup, so it’s worth a try.

Bacon Wrapped hot dogs

I can find these bacon-wrapped hot dogs at home in LA, where the street vendors put them on buns and top them with grilled peppers and onions. I didn’t try the Seoul version!

Stack of tornado potatoes

I can’t  resist including one more photo of the lovely looking tornado potato display that the vendor put up. He wasn’t happy about the photos even though I bought one, so just remember to be polite if you ask for a photo and not to be obnoxiously taking a dozen and getting in the way of customers (which I wasn’t, for the record).

Street popcorn

This version of popcorn, which was slightly sweet and not very salty, reminded me a bit of kettle corn. I think I like the extra saltiness of kettle corn better, but in big bags this was a popular street snack – especially with some of the younger kids I saw out with their families.

Silkworm larvae

Here’s one that I didn’t try: silkworm larvae. The smell was interesting. First, it reminded me of a nice charcoal barbeque, then it took on a slight hint of burning mothballs, which made it less appealing to me (and my American tastebuds). That said, they were very popular.

Mango and Vanilla ice cream

I’m ending this with something sweet, a huge mango and vanilla soft serve ice cream cone that I picked up just a few blocks from my hotel. This place had a line down the street for the foot-high ice cream cones that cost only 1,000 won (less than a dollar). The mango and vanilla flavors were both really fresh and clear, making this one of the best soft serves I’ve had  in recent memory.

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  • Belinda@zomppa
    October 8, 2009

    WOW! These snacks look soooooo good. Why don’t they sell these here in the U.S.? And what a great way to end the “meal” with the ice cream!

  • Paige
    October 8, 2009

    I just want to say TORNADO POTATO! TORNADO POTATO! all day long.

  • Ariel
    October 8, 2009

    Oh, you’re making me want to on another trip to Korea! I love the ice cream there, too.

  • Ciaochowlinda
    October 8, 2009

    I have to say most of that street food did not entice me – but that huge mango ice cream cone – another story entirely.

  • Pamela M
    October 8, 2009

    It’s great to see you’re having such a good time enjoying the street food of Seoul.

    I just wanted to point out that what you’re calling “fish paste” is actually called “fish cake”. It’s made out of white fish and stuff, sometimes with vegetables. Chinese also have them in rounded ball form in hotpots and things.

  • dawn
    October 8, 2009

    now this is fun. I love to hear and see about street food from all over the world. heartburn is ok. lol

  • Chrisya Owens
    October 12, 2009

    Hope you can blog about Thai Street Foods soon. I so Love thai and Can’t wait you can blo about it…

  • lisa
    October 12, 2009

    I love korean street food! it’s the best!!!

  • jdm
    March 24, 2010

    A lot of interesting looking food.

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