Korea has deep passion for food. Our ancestors have developed many levels of food, which today are available in several forms, from modern and expensive restaurants to street vendors and stalls. Most of this food is not “hardcore” at all to Koreans but it might to some of you who travel to Korea – weird Korean food is a phrase probably often uttered in this country. Seoul in particular has many other great restaurants, but before you go anywhere look at the list below; I’d like to introduce five of the mildest weird Korean foods you can and should eat while in Seoul.
Tteok-bok-i: Rice Cakes in Hot Sauce
If you dare, taste the most popular street food of all time! It is called Tteokbokki. It’s simply cylinder shaped rice cakes cooked with Korean hot pepper sauce as a main ingredient. A lot of malt is in the sauce, so you should be able to taste the sweetness but for people who not familiar with spicy food, it can be just damn hot. You can find this weird Korean food at street vendors in every corner in Seoul. Another popular food along with tteok-bok-I is Umuk. Umuk is fish cake in different shapes and it’s commonly sell with tteokboki. To eat, dip the cake in the hot and tasty soup, with little bit of soy sauce. These two foods sell any season of the year, but in the winter with a cup of Umuk soup and tteokboki couldn’t be better.
A plate of Teokboki : 2000 won ($1.5 USD)
A stick of Umuk : 500 won ($0.4 USD)
Soon-dae: Noodles in Pig’s Intestines
This is a quite famous street food in Korea. Most of snack stalls in Seoul have Soondae because Koreans eat this with Tteok-bok-i. There’s several different ways of Soondae making, but mainly noodles-transparent noodles- and vegetables in cleaned pig’s intestines. Many Europeans or North Americans would likely call this blood sausage. Eat it with salt, though people in south part of Korea, such as Busan, eat it with bean sauce. Not only can you eat Soondae with sauces, but also there’s a main dish called Soondae Guk, hot pot of soup with Soondae. It’s cheap, it’s tasty! Weird Korean food couldn’t be more satisfying.
A plate of Soondae : 2000 won/plate ($1.5 USD)
A pot of Soondae guk : 6000 won/pot ($5 USD)
Dark-bal: Feet of Chicken
Let’s not mince words when it comes to weird Korean food – this is is exactly what it called. Cooked feet of chicken. Usually it cooked with hot pepper sauce and it can be served with or without bones, and you’ll find it prepared in various ways: grilled, steamed or parched with sauce. Chicken, cows and pig are the usual farm animals in Korea, so I’m guessing that’s why poor farmers cooked and ate feet of chicken. How’s the taste? Mostly it is really chewy and hot. It is a delicacy. Darkbal goes nicely with soju (Korean Vodka).
Bun-dae-gi: Silkworm Pupae
This is a literally a silkworm and possibly the most visually unappealing of all the weird Korean food. It is usually boiled and then seasoned. When I was a kid, there was Bundaegi vendor in every town; it was the most popular street food of all time. This is not quite as popular to children nowadays like it used to be, but many Korean people have a nostalgia for Bundaegi. Often it is served with alcohol (again, such as Soju) for grownups. A soup of bundaegi go with alcohol really well. There’s also a can of bundaegi in a market, which suprisingly is a steady seller. It can be little unreal to eat but taste it! Then you will understand why.
Ggup-dae-gi: Pig Skin
Have you had grilled pig skin? Koreans are meat-loving people, which is reflected in their weird Korean food tendencies. Even pig’s skin can be a good delicacy. There is even a specific restaurant for pig’s skin. Sometimes it parched with hot sauce but grilled one is the, best in my opinion. As you can imagine, the skin of pig is quite strong but that’s a part of beauty of this dish. Near where I live, the whole street is filled with restaurants just for pig skin. ‘Mapo’ is name of the area, located in mid-west of Seoul. My father used to take us there – its not a ‘fancy’ restaurant but the skill is the best in town. But usually if there’s pork, there’s a skin too. Find it and grill it! It’s such a charming dish!