Whether you’re hitting the pavement in a new city, working through a busy afternoon or just Netflix and chillin’, you can’t beat a good snack to power you through. Koreans have not only mastered a culture of addicting main dishes, but their snack game ain’t too shabby, either. I’ve tried most of these at the urging of my Korean friends and co-workers, so this list of quintessential Korean snacks will only grow over time.
I’m not sure if there’s an actual name for these, but it’s what all my co-teachers call them. Fruit is especially prized and expensive in Korea, with fruit sets at Chuseok easily going for over $200.00. So, I knew when my co-teacher cut into these apples with dark splotches in the flesh, it wasn’t a bad apple. These apples are especially loved because these dark bits taste extra sweet and rich like honey.
Sweet Cinnamon Turtle Chips
Shout out to one of my favorite little third graders, Jun Oh, for giving me the heads up on these crunchy bites. He brought these into after school class one day and offered me one. I was intrigued by the cinnamon smell and gave it a go. Imagine if Cinnamon Toast Crunch mashed up with Bugles and you’ll get these addicting Turtle Chips. The packaging is adorable, but it hasn’t stopped me from demolishing a bag by myself or sending some back to my friends and family in the States.
Kim Ja Ban
I first had this as a banchan item on my lunch tray a few weeks ago. I ate it all then eagerly went back to take a cup back to my class as my afternoon snack. Dried seaweed (gim, laver, nori) is stir fried with a touch of sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, salt and a hint of sugar. It’s the perfect sweet and salty snack that keeps you going back for bite after bite. Although most people eat this as a topping on or mixed into rice, I really dug on this snack by itself.
Thanks to Netflix and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, these little drinks are far and away the most asked about item from my friends back home. Yakult is a popular brand, as seen in the movie, but just like Banana Milk (mentioned below), there is no lack in options. I’ve tried a few and they all taste pretty much the same to me. The consistency is thinner than Kefir and it honestly makes me gag when I drink it because of that. To be fair, I’ve sipped it because I wanted to see what the flavor is. However, most of my co-teachers knock it back like a shot.
Sauna Style Eggs
I love eggs. Fried, scrambled, boiled, in a salad – the list goes on. My egg repertoire has since grown since trying my first-ever sauna style egg when I moved to Korea. If you’ve ever watched a Korean drama where the characters go to a jimjilbang, or sauna, you have more than likely seen them snack on these smoky eggs. Originally cooked by the heat from the saunas, these can now be found easily at the store or made in a manual rice cooker at home. They’re usually served with a little packet of smoked salt to enhance the smokiness of the baked egg. Simplicity at its best!
No Korean snack list is complete without a shout out to banana milk. Binggrae is by far the most popular brand and all my students love it. I’ve tried a few brands, but it’s quickly shot up to become my #1, too. There are so many options on the shelf, but this one is the most balanced to me. Rich banana flavor without tasting like fake candy and enough sweetness without feeling sick after drinking a bottle.
Have you tried any of these Korean snacks or have one I should include on the list? Comment below with the snack! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and check in for my regular posts over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.