Gear up for the Cold, Harsh Winter With This Variety of Tasty Korean Treats
With December in full swing, winter will soon hit its peak! Dressing warmly and spending time with family and friends are some of the most essential things that one does during winter. It is also important to have the most delicious and popular winter treats ready to keep warm and comfortable. Here is a compilation of a few well-known Korean meals that are usually eaten during the winter season.
Hoddeok is essentially the Korean version of a pancake but slightly flatter and with a lovely sugary twist. The pastry is made of a simple dough mix which is then lightly fried in oil before it is served to excited customers, usually in little paper cups. When carefully biting into the piping hot hoddeok, a surprise awaits as the melted brown sugar filling oozes out. Of course, there are also several variations from the traditional hoddeok where the filling can contain peanuts for an extra crunch or cinnamon for a more flavorful taste. Beyond just the filling, there is also hotteok with a different pastry flavor, like green tea. There are also savory hoddeok, including stir-fried glass noodles hoddeok, known as japchae hoddeok, and vegetable hoddeok as well. Street vendors can be seen selling hoddeok as it is a popular snack that is favored by both tourists and the locals. Hoddeok is fairly easy to make, and there are also different kinds of hoddeok mixes pre-made and available in Korean convenience stores and marts, for those who are more on the lazy side.
Baked/Roasted Sweet Potato (군고구마)
It is a simple but incredibly delicious food that many Koreans enjoy during the harsh winter. Although roasted sweet potato is more popular among older people, there’s no harm in having a bite of this tasty treat. Roasted sweet potato tastes best when it has just been taken out of the oven and is soft and sweet when biting into it. Sometimes, people like to sprinkle brown sugar on top to add more sweetness. Not only is this treat tasty, it is also healthy, easy to make at home, and will keep the body warm during the cold winter.
Red bean porridge (팥죽)
Red bean porridge is a sweet dessert that Koreans enjoy eating in the winter. The porridge also contains rice cakes in the shape of small balls which are slightly chewy. In addition to that, this sugary treat is easy to make at home to share with family, friends, and even neighbors. The red beans, also known as azuki beans, are cooked in boiling water and mashed up. It can be served with kimchi as a side dish, and some prefer to sprinkle some sugar on top to add to the sweetness. The thick texture of this red bean porridge is soft which makes it popular especially among children and older people. It is also said that eating red bean porridge during winter solstice will fend off evil spirits and bad luck. A bowl of sweet and rich red bean porridge will surely warm up the body during the winter.
Roasted chestnuts (군밤)
With an incredible smell and interesting texture, roasted chestnuts are a favorite of Koreans of all ages. They are essentially chestnuts that have been roasted or baked for a long time. The long roasting time ensures that the delicious taste of the chestnut is brought out as much as possible. After breaking off the shell, one can bite into it and experience a heavenly taste of sweetness. The chestnut’s texture is similar to that of a sweet potato but slightly drier. It is a snack sold both among street vendors and in convenience stores where it is easier to eat and doesn’t make too much of a mess.
Mandu Soup (만두국)
Mandu soup is, for certain, a dish that would suit the taste of those who like something a bit more savory. This soup is usually made with an anchovy broth that gives it a hearty, but not too heavy, taste. The mandu is a stuffed moon-shaped dumpling with a filling inside, usually minced meat and spring onions, wrapped with a fairly thin dough. At the end of cooking, beaten egg can also be added to give the soup a richer and thicker taste. Also, there are different kinds of mandus, such as kimchi mandu, vegetable mandu, meat mandu, and seafood mandu, that one can choose to have with the base soup. Some may enjoy the mandu soup with the addition of some rice cakes; this is called rice cake mandu soup or tteok mandu soup. Mandu soup is a light treat that leaves a lingering taste of longing for more because it’s just that delicious.
The walnut cake is another sweet treat for those who have that special sweet tooth. It is a snack that is widely loved by many people because it is something that one can pop into the mouth in one go. The walnut cake is a small bite-sized baked pastry in the shape of a walnut, much like its name, and is filled with a rich red bean paste. This snack is also easy to eat on the go, and many people like buying a bag of walnut cakes to satisfy their stomach with something warm. Although the red bean paste can be heavy at times, taking small bites can prevent this problem from occurring. The walnut cake is definitely a snack that is worth trying! Who can resist this incredibly yummy little treat?
Another popular sweet treat that is certainly something one cannot miss is the ever-so-delicious bungeoppang. Carts selling bungeoppang on the streets in Korea is a common sight in the winter as people line up to purchase them. Bungeoppang is made by pouring a dough mix into a carp-shaped mold and filling it with red bean paste. The word bungeo in Korean means carp, which is why this food is shaped the way it is. It is a relatively cheap purchase and is most of the time made right on the spot so that customers get their bungeoppang all nice and warm, perfect for the winter.