South Korea is known for many different things. It could be technology (Samsung & LG), culture (K-Pop and Korean Drama), or fashion. But there is also one component that cannot be forgotten regarding South Korea, and that is... FOOD.
South Korea is known for its food, and they are REAL when it comes to their food. With Korean BBQ taking a boom in recent years, K-food is becoming more and more recognized worldwide.
Korea typically has a brutal winter, with temperatures dropping below freezing nearly every day during the winter months. If you've been exposed to any type of Korean culture during the winter time, you'll see that nearly everyone is wearing their long puffer jacket (also called long padding in South Korea) to keep themselves warm.
With a cold winter, Koreans also turn to food to keep themselves warm. Korea, being the food-obsessed nation it is, has some signature winter food items that people turn to when it does turn to winter times. You've probably seen these food items in Korean dramas or Korean television shows, and people line up for these food items in the wintertime for sure! So let's see what food items are a popular staple in South Korea, and the good news is -- you're probably able to access a good chunk of these foods internationally as well, so let's go ahead and check it out!
Spicy Rice Cakes (Topokki)
Spicy rice cakes are already a popular food item in South Korea year-round, but it's especially delicious eating them after a cold night out! If you're especially in the streets of Korea and in below-freezing temperatures, you can stop by a food cart that sells these for cheap prices and have yourself a plate of deliciousness! Check out the crew of "Delicious Guys" hammering down a plate of spicy rice cakes!
Boong Uh Bbang (Taiyaki)
Boong Uh Bbang is Korea's own twist on the Japanese Taiyaki, and boong uh bbang food carts are always poppin' during the winter months. It originally began as just red bean flavored, but recently, new fillings have arrived such as custard, sweet potato, nutella and cream cheese. Whatever the flavor may be, this warm treat definitely gets your tummy happy in cold temperatures at an affordable price! Jang Sung Kyu took on a day job as working at a boong uh bbang place in 2022!
Similar to boong uh bbang, walnut snacks are also a hot staple in South Korea, especially during the winter months. It's really simple - it's a round baked good with red bean filling and a few walnuts, and this treat goes GREAT with white milk. If baked fresh, it tastes so good and you'll be surprised at how quickly this goes away!
Udon is also a dish that originated from Japan, but Korea took its own twist to it. The warm soup makes you feel so happy, and the thick noodles of udon definitely make you feel happy. You can find cheap bowls of udon in street food carts or traditional Korean markets and you'll leave warmed up and fueled up!
Another K-snack that booms during the winter months is hotteok, which can be described as a Korean pancake. It even looks like one -- the only difference is that there is rice cake/mochi batter inside the pancake (hence tteok) and it's filled with melted sugar and nuts, which makes it a great sweet treat for the winter months! Check out Hwasa scarfing down some delicious hotteok and having her own winter party!
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes is exactly what it is, and some people may question -- what's so special about that? But once you get a taste of it, you'll just want it more. The smoked and roasted taste of the sweet potato makes the flavor even sweeter, and blowing on the hot sweet potato is also an experience that you'll only be able to get in South Korea. This has been a Korean staple winter snack for decades, and the boom does not cease to stop.
Another great snack that is worth trying is hobbang -- a bread filled with either red beans or vegetables. Think of a Korean dumpling, except instead of dumpling skin. It's delicious bread! It often becomes a debate on whether red beans are your favorite or vegetables are your favorite. Whatever it may be -- they both taste great, and Paik Jong Won released his own recipe of it as well. Also -- hobbang is easy to purchase in the States through Korean markets as well -- all you need to do is microwave. So the next time you see hobbang, don't skip out on it and give it a try!
Sliced Raw Yellowtail
This dish doesn't necessarily get you warm, but it is a dish in South Korea that can only be found during the winter months. Korea has a love for sushi and sashimi as well, but there is one fish that receives an insane amount of love during the winter months and that is raw yellowfish. Yellowfish's peak season is during the winter months so it's hard to find during any other season and its signature fattiness and savory flavor get Koreans crazy! There are LINES to have a taste of this yellowfish despite the high price tag, and once you've had a taste of this -- you will see why. If you're ever visiting South Korea during the winter and are a big fan of sashimi, this one is a must-try.
What are your thoughts on this list? Is your mouth watering yet? Korea definitely loves its food, and they are not messing around. Is there a food that you would like to try? Or another Korean winter food that you like that didn't make this list? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!