Memos from Asia

Top 5 Delicious Korean Foods to Enjoy in Autumn

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Aerial view at Naejangsang, South Korea.

Autumn in South Korea is so wonderful with beautiful foliage in the parks, the crinkling sound the red and orange colored leaves make when stepping on them, people walking around in long fall coats, but the best of all is the delicious food that autumn brings forth.

There are many hearty foods that people eat in the fall season, and most are only eaten in the fall because they are specifically harvested during the last months of the year. Here are some of the tastiest foods that you must eat during the fall season in South Korea.

1. Mandoo

Mandoo is also known as dumplings, and they have originated from China thousands of years ago. Dumplings have many different versions in various parts of East Asia, and in Korea, they are known as mandoo.

Street vendor cooking fresh pork stuffed steam buns, called Nikuman in Japan.

They are usually shaped like a croissant, compared to a more round bun shape such as in China and Japan. They are filled with meat such as marinated beef, pork, or chicken, scallions, garlic, onion, and sometimes kimchi. The kimchi mandoo are usually red in color and spicier.

(Korean dumplings, Korea)

There are many restaurants and street vendors selling mandoo all over Korea. Some are even on food channels, and the news for being exceptional in taste and often have very long lines. Every city has a delicious mandoo specialty restaurant or vendor, so make sure to grab a few scrumptious mandoos if you are near one.

Mandoo vendor in Seoul, Korea

2. Jjin Bbang

Jjin bbang (also known as ho bbang) is also eaten a lot in the fall season, because many people on their way to work or school grab some to keep warm. Jjin bbang is literally translated as chubby bread. They are also known as red bean buns, and have many versions throughout East Asia. Also originating from Japan and China with the anko bean, Koreans have adopted the jjin bbang to sell on street booths.

Jjin bbang is mainly only filled with red beans and considered more of a dessert and breakfast item, whereas China has steamed buns filled with different interiors, such as pork buns and different meats.

Market street vendors, South Korea

One can find jjin bbang at markets and dumpling vendors, where there will be many gigantic steel pots filled with mandoo and jjinbbang. There are many different sizes, such as mini, medium, and large. One of the most popular jjin bbang in South Korea is the ahn heung jjin bbang, which has been historically popular for over 30 years.

The jjin bbang from Ahn Heung (city east of Seoul in Gangwon Province) has been known to be the tastiest in all of Korea. They are smaller and more on the mini side, and have a white or green bun (green tea). You can even get them hand-delivered all throughout South Korea, so they are very convenient to acquire.

3. Gam Ja Tang

Gam ja tang is a Korean stew that is often eaten during the fall and winter months in South Korea. The stew is served as a main entree, and is often eaten in a huge black dolsot pan (stone pan) to keep the heat from escaping.

Gam ja tang is literally translated to potato stew- the stew is filled with potatoes and pork ribs or back bones. Interestingly, there is not much potato that goes into the soup (usually just one) but is filled with a lot of pork meat.

(Songpa-gu young adult gam ja tang, South Korea)

The stew is flavored with onions, peppers, garlic, and sesame seeds. The broth is usually a bit spicy and keeps people warm during the cold weather. There are some vegetables such as ssuk gat, which carries a very aromatic herb flavor. The stew is eaten with a bowl of rice and side dishes, and is very filling and hot.

There are many specialty gam ja tang restaurants across South Korea, with the popular ones having long lines also. One popular one is in Songpa-gu, Seoul, and the restaurant is known as Songpa young adult gam ja tang. This restaurant is known to serve meat stacked into a tower, and usually holds challenges for people who can finish all of the stew in one sitting.

4. Budae Jjigae

Budae Jjigae is also called army base stew, and is eaten all over South Korea. The name originates from when soldiers first created the stew during the war. The stew is eaten mostly during the winter months, but people eat it all throughout the year. The ingredients of budae jjigae are sausages, red pepper paste, ramen noodles, onions, sugar, red pepper flakes, spam or bologna, scallions, garlic, rice cake, and beans. People have experimented with different ingredients, so there are many different versions of the same stew. People eat budae jjigae at home or at restaurants, and some Koreans eat it while drinking soju or beer.

One specialty house for budae jjigae is in Gangnam, where they only have a handful of items on the menu. People from all over Korea flock to this restaurant and its chains, and they always have long lines in the winter.

(Budae jjigae, Italy Budae Jjigae House)

The restaurant is called Italy Budae Jjigae Sun Jeong Reung House, and it is located in Gangnam. Its popularity started a chain franchise and does well in other locations as well. The rice, rice cake, side dishes, and noodles are all you can eat, so people love to get refills for their stew. The stew is extremely well flavored and the meat makes the broth very delicious.

5. Hoddeok

Ho ddeok (also known as Korean pancakes) is a very delicious dessert that is eaten in South Korea. It kind of looks like a round flat jjin bbang, or a thick pancake. The bread has a jelly or honey filling with seeds in the middle, and is very hot. The middle is very gooey and can be sometimes messy to eat, so make sure to grab some napkins!

(Hoddeok filling, Kakobites)

Ho ddeok originates back to the 19th century, in middle East Asia. Hoddeok is a very common street vendor food in Korea, and is sold among ddeokbokee, fish cakes, and mandoo. There are a lot of restaurants and mall cafes that sell this product, so it will be a very common sight when traveling to Korea.

There are also DIY hoddeok packages sold in Korean stores. They are very straightforward to make, and is a fun activity to make with your friends and children. They have regular and green tea hoddeoks, and are delicious to eat even when making them at home.

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