Besides the cold winds and early sunset, Jjinbbang is another sign that winter is present in Korea. This old school Korean winter food is usually only sold during the cold months, making this a hot seller (no pun intended… maybe :P)! Jjinbbang is made up of wheat flour dough filled with, yeah-you-guessed-it-right, sweet red bean paste! The process of making this delicious snack is done by steaming. Whether you are young or old, people instinctively crave jjinbbang during the winter times and there are even other types of fillings to accustom people’s liking such as meat, vegetables, pizza, and even curry. They usually costs around 500 to 700 won a piece and are usually found usually in any convenience store or small supermarkets. Vendors that specialize in jjinbbang usually make them bigger and awesomer. A good jjinbbang is served fresh out of the steamer and is great for curing your chills 🙂
Here’s a delicious Korean comfort food (or vegetable :P) for you: gun goguma, aka baked sweet potatoes. Although this winter food is consumed by all ages, it’s favored more by older Koreans who for some reason always seem to carry them around in those supermarket plastic bags when you pick out vegetables. Goguma is best eaten on the spot, right when they come out of the oven. The smell of baked sweet potatoes drifting through the icy cold weather is just priceless.
Hodugwaja (literally walnut cake-snack) is an excellent on-the-go winter snack in Korea and is well-loved by all cold people in Korea. In Seoul, these are often made and sold on the streets, and for cold people, the whiff of baked goods are pretty hard to resist. That’s why people get a bag of these hotties to munch on while walking the streets. Hodugwaja are also typically sold at highway stops in Korea during the winter time and has become a symbol of long-journey travel during the winter time. So rest assured, wherever you go, you can grab your hands on these walnut cakes almost anywhere you go in Korea! 😀 This traditional Korean winter snack consists of a red beans and walnuts, then baked into a small bite size cake.
There were a few ways that Korean people warmed themselves back in the days during the winter: alcohol and spicy foods 😛 Well, minus the alcohol, we got one spicy food for you on the list that you all might be familiar with: tteokbokki (떡볶이). This winter snack (although can be eaten during any season) is one of the most famous dishes in South Korea, hands down because of the ultra cheap price tag and availability. And if you’re out and about on the streets doing touristy stuff in the winter time, it’s pretty easy to get cold. And since tteokbokki is sold on pretty much any street, many people stop by to eat this spicy food. But we think the real reason is because people want to heat up from the stoves that the tteokbokki is made from. And since some of these trucks even have plastic drapes to help keep the heat inside during the winter time, we’re pretty darn sure 😉
Tip: All of the street vendors will usually have odeng broth (see #9) available for you to drink for free. Just grab a cup and pour yourself some!
Want to find some restaurants to eat tteokbokki at? Check out our list of 7 Must Eat Ttekbokki places in Seoul!
Odeng is a fish cake skewer sold on any tteokbokki truck. It’s made from a fish and flour paste, together with several different spices, which is then skewered and boiled in a special broth for added taste. A typical Odeng skewer will cost you anywhere from 500 to 700 won, sometimes two for 1,000 won 🙂 Sure it’s delicious and cheap, but the real reason why this is a great winter food is because the broth it’s cooked in. Any order you get from the truck gets you unlimited access to the odeng broth (odeng gungmul/오뎅국물). This is the real stuff that warms you up inside. And since it’s unlimited refills, you can just drink it up till you get the feeling back in your fingers.
Tip: You can order the cheapest thing on the truck (usually odeng) and drink the broth all you want.
Tip: This is also one of our recommended Korean hangover cures 😀
Another popular winter food in Korea is steamed corn. And the reason is pretty simple. If you’re walking down the street and see some hot piping corn steaming, you’re going to want it. But not just because it warms your stomach, it also warms your hands while you eat. And it’s a bonus that it’s cheap and healthy; the Korean street corn version has little to no salt or butter at all. It’s also a great way to support local farmers. Most of the steamed corn for sale on the street is from domestic (local) farms, and so they sometimes have as few as ten or twenty cobs for sale. Buy one to eat and warm your hands, and buy another one just to rub your face against. That’ll warm you up!