Countries in Asia are known for their vibrant street markets. A must-visit, especially at nighttime, tourists and locals alike, can spend hours trawling through the narrow streets, passing by hundreds of stalls that offer cheap and one-of-a-kind clothes, wares, and many more. One of the main attractions of street markets, however, is the food.
Street markets are known to serve many delicious, yet affordable, local dishes. Such is the popularity of street food that many eschew expensive restaurants to instead have their meals in a street market. This makes street markets a prime destination for adventurous folks who are always looking to try something new.
Korea is no exception, with the Myeongdong and Gwangjang markets drawing thousands of visitors daily. Besides the unique clothes, facial products, and electronic gadgets that Korea is famous for, you may also find some of the best fast-food stalls here.
These are some must-try local delicacies when in street markets:
Tteokbokki, or spicy rice cakes, is definitely one for the adventurous. The rice cakes, which are cylinder-shaped and resemble penne pasta, are cooked in a spicy red sauce known as gochujang, which is primarily composed of soybeans that have been fermented together with red chilies.
This spicy sauce is what gives the otherwise plain-tasting rice cakes their signature flavor. Hence, those who have a low spice tolerance are likely to stay away from this dish, though some attempt to temper its fires by pairing it with soup and neutral side dishes.
Hotteok, also known as the Korean doughnut, is one of the most popular treats in the winter. These are made out of dough that has been pressed into disc-like shapes that resemble pancakes or doughnuts. These are then fried until they are golden brown and crispy. Afterward, they are filled with a mixture primarily composed of cinnamon and brown sugar.
Hence, a bite into a hotteok will make this gooey mixture burst into your mouth, providing you great sweetness and relief during the winter. Variations of hotteok can even add to the flavor by including ingredients such as red beans, black sesame seeds, peanuts, and honey in the filling.
Odeng refers to fishcakes that have been placed on a skewer, making them easier to eat. Unlike other Korean street food, odeng is flavorful without being too spicy, making it popular among the spice-averse.
The fishcakes are served with a broth that has been infused with seafood and spring onions, giving the dish flavor while helping it have a calming effect. This also makes it a popular snack during winter, with many locals taking it with soju, as the soup and meat will help temper the fiery feeling that comes with the alcohol.
Korean Fried Chicken
Of course, a Korean street food experience is not complete without trying their world-famous variant of fried chicken. Korean fried chicken is typically served in boneless, bite-sized pieces that make them perfect finger food. After being fried twice to achieve that extra crunch, they are coated in a special sauce that is made of honey and various spices.
Those who desire even more flavor can further season the chicken with chili flakes, garlic, peanuts, and more spicy sauces. The spice-averse can use some spring onion instead to help temper the fires or choose unique flavors such as parmesan. Popularly taken alongside beer, this dish is a staple in many Korean restaurants, bars, and fast-food stalls.