Fall is quickly approaching, and that means one thing: the piping hot street foods are set to return and I thought I’d take a moment to share with you one of my favorite street foods. What makes it even more interesting is that this singularly named street food comes in two varieties. What is it? The hotteok (호떡).
If you ask most people what a hotteok (호떡) is they will tell you something like this: a doughnut fried up on a griddle and pressed flat with cinnamon inside. It’s believed that hotteoks made their way into Korea with Chinese immigrants near the end of the 19th Century. While the Chinese variety are often stuffed with meat and savory fillings, Korean hotteoks usually have a sweet center. The most common filling is cinnamon and sugar, but sometimes honey and nuts are added. Recently new varieties have been popping up using vegetables, green tea, bokbunja (raspberry), and other sweets to liven up this traditional treat.
The Bubble Hotteok (버블호떡)
The above is the second variety. While traditionally hotteoks are fried, bubble hotteoks are baked. They are still made from dough and filled with cinnamon/honey/sugar, but are rolled out flat and then placed onto griddles over an open flame and baked. The result is a light and crispy shell filled with a gooey inside that is delicious. Of the two types, this is Jo’s favorite. I will also admit to liking this one a little more, since it isn’t as greasy.
Initially these treats were served primarily during cold weather months, but now they can be found on streets year-round. Price for each hovers around W1,000 per tasty morsel, but have seen a few roadside stands offering up a great 2-for-1 deal. If you’re walking the streets in Korea, and are craving a sweet snack, this may just be for you – but try to get a fresh one. If they’ve been sitting for a while, they’re not as great.