You might recognise this week’s sweet treat. In fact, we’re sure you do. With its distinctive shape, bungeoppang is something that is easily recognisable. Being one of the most popular street foods in Korea, it’s more than likely that should you wander the streets of Seoul long enough, you’ll come across several places selling these little fish-shaped pastries. They’ve also popped up in more than a few k-dramas over the years.
Given its shape, it would be easy to assume that bungeoppang is a savoury snack rather than a sweet one. But they don’t contain any fish at all. The name literally translated means carp bread. Instead, you’ll find a sweet surprise inside its waffle-like casing: red beans. The pastry itself is made by pouring a batter of flour, sometimes eggs and either water or milk into a specially shaped iron mold. It’s a very simple recipe but that’s what makes these treats so tempting. Not only that, but the simple nature of how it’s made makes them a perfect example of street food. They’re quick to make, relatively cheap and can be easily customised.
Whilst the most traditional filling is red bean paste, street food vendors have taken to experimenting over the years. Much like hotteok, another popular street food, bungeoppang can be filled with all manner of nice things. Like Nutella. The warm outside makes the centre melt, the batter invading it remaining slightly crisp but also soft. There are also versions you can find filled with pastry cream, chocolate or fruit. Savoury fillings such as pizza toppings, with melted mozzarella cheese and tomato, are also getting more popular.
It’s constantly evolving with changing tastes but has been eaten in Korean since the Japanese occupation of the country in the 1930’s. Sharing many similarities with the Japanese taiyaki, it’s said to be derived from the food, which in turn was adapted from western style waffles. It’s a real fusion food that has found its way back to a synonymous part of Korean street food. Bungeoppang became more sought after in the 1990’s as a “retro craze” swept over Korea. Nowadays, there’s even a map on Google Maps that bungeoppang fans can follow to find the best hotspots for the fish-shaped nibbles, including reviews and photos from each location.
Would you call yourself a carp bread enthusiast or have you yet to try them? With such a simple recipe, it’s easy to test them out for yourself at home! Check out this chilled out video from Honeykki showing you how to make them and give them a go!