Nanika atta! Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!~! ^_^
I admit I've been a bit of a homer by mentioning snacks exclusive to Japan. That's just because I've been a bit lazy :(
SO! Today's edition has nothing to do with Japan at all, but instead we focus on its coastal neighbor, South Korea!!! What snacks are available in Seoul, Busan, Daegu and every other Korean metropolis? Too many to name! With its wide variety and competitive snack industry, South Koreans have a majority to choose from!
But FIRST...let's not forget that snacks may be a food group in our part of the world, but the junk food variety isn't gorged in a typical Korean household. In fact, in Korea they prefer to call them gwaja, which is sugary snack. The traditional stuff still hits the spot with Korean sesame candies (kang jung), custard breads (poolppang) and, of course! you guessed it!, bbopki...the famous Korean sugar stick candy! But this article is about their junk food sweets...ones we can import or go to your local Korean market and indulge...hee...so without further ado...we present SWEET KOREAN JUNK FOOD!
THE EVER-POPULAR CHOCOPIE!
So what's hot in Korean junk food...er, gwaja? Shrimp chips! But since this is a "sweet" article (ha!) we'll start with the ever popular Chocopie! A spongecake covered with layers of sweet chocolate, rewarded with a center marshellow filling. MMMM! It's adored especially by South Korean young men in the military (a reward from basic training) and k-pop girls! What's more...they're also used as birthday gifts! Since birthday cakes are considered an expense in South Korea, plenty of common folk/students get Chocopies as birthday cake substitutes. Cute! ^_^
Chocopies are beloved nationally by South Koreans, and is often seen as a family snack. What's more, North Koreans use Chocopies as currency! Jodan ja nai! Since imports are rare, according to reports, these Chocopies are sold on the North Korean black market for hefty sums...often enough for weeks of actual wages! But are Chocopies a Korean thing? What about their availability to the rest of the world. Fear not, these chocolate marshmellow cakes from Orion are widely available in other parts of Asia, most of Western Europe, Russia and heavily populated Korean area of the United States such as Flushing, New York and Koreatown in Los Angeles!
MORE CHOCOLATE GWAJA
Want more chocolate? How about Lotte's Chocolate Sunflower Choco Balls...light sunflower seeds covered in milk chocolate that barely taps the link of junk food. On one hand it's chocolate, on the other hands it's sunflower seeds. Saikou! These little things are tasty when they're eaten in large chunks just like regular sunflower seeds. They remind me of Boston Chocolate Baked Beans!
And who can forget my article a few months back about Pocky (you didn't really forget did you? Did you? Sigh. Dou sureba ii de shou ka)? Korean's own version of chocolate dipped sticks is called Pepero! While Pocky is much more popular, most would agree that Pepero is the closest imitator. I'm still muchhhhh more biased towards Pocky, but I wouldn't complain if I was trapped on a dessert island with Pepero! What can you expect out of Pepero? Well, for one, even their packaging looks a whole lot like Pocky. But their sticks taste more cracker-y than the ones for Pocky. Good news? One-and-a-half boxes of Pepero cost about as much as one box of Pocky, so perhaps there's an economical advantage with one over another...? Hmmmm! Hee! ^_^
One more, chocloate Korean food item before we move on: Home Run Balls. Yep! That's right!!! South Koreans love baseball as much as the folks in Japan, and often make their Olympic and World Baseball Classic competitions that much more interesting when these two countries play for baseball pride! These sugary egg cookies, called Choco Home Run Balls, are old-school finger snacks that's been around since 1981. They are soft pastries that come in several flavors including chocolate, cream, caramel, strawberry, cheese and ice cream! MMMMM! These are flavors familiar with Korean culture and, unlike, Japanese culture, do not usually try more radical flavors that are unfamiliar with their core base customers. But delicious snacks such as the Home Run Ball comes with a curse...the curse of too much calories. Each Home Run Ball packs a whopping amount of filling sending it up to as high as 270 calories per pack! Holy moley! 0_0
MY GUMMY AND MINI-CUP POPCORN
Prefer something less chocolatey and into something soft and gooey? How about My Gummys! My Gummys are your basic gummy candies win the shapes of the various fruit flavors they cover. Because Koreans do not like extremities in their sweets, these gummies may taste a lot lighter than the gummies that they're used to from North America. But nevertheless, they are classified under the category "delicious"! Just like the Chocopies, My Gummys are made by the company Orion.
Like popcorn? What about Mini-Cup Popcorn! These little monsters are some of the best tasting sweet popcorn produced in the world. There are over 30 different flavors and are widely available in most theaters in South Korea. The packaging usually comes in personal 12oz. and 16 oz. cups or entire buckets. BUT WHAT DO THEY TASTE LIKE KITTY??? Ha! That depends on what flavor you're asking. Although they come in so many varities including cappucino, assorted fruit and chocolate, nothing rocks my world more than the classic butter and almond!
HEALTHY KOREAN SWEET SNACKS
Well, if you're like me, you're feeling just a litttttttttle guilty about not eating healthy. Isn't there an alternative? Mochiron desu! Just like most countries, Koreans are obsessed with eating healthy foods. And that's where snacks from natural organic veggies come from. Take for example, the ever popular Gogu Makkang, the sweet potato fry! These french fry looking things are made purely from the basics of sweet potatoes, flour, a little sugar and rice oil! So eat to your heart's content!
Don't like the taste of sweet potato? How about the bananas?! Introducing Banana Kick, a Cheetos-looking snack that promises on the label "Tastes like real banana!" But is it made from real banana? Hmmmm. Haha. No! However, that doesn't mean they're not healthy. With zero trans fat, with the main ingredients being corn flour, rice bran oil and banana powder, you can filler up on Banana Kicks and minimize on the guilt!
Korea and Japan are two countries that are highly competitive with one another. And why not? It just means more quality dessert snacks for all of us! In today's world of internet ordering, you can order a majority of these online, or just use a map site to find the nearest Korean supermarket. They could carry them since most of the ones I mentioned here are super popular in South Korea!
Well! Pshew! I'm exhausted from writing all this. Let's take a break! Come back in 15 days as we discuss more Asian desserts. Until then, yoi ichinichi o! Hee! ^_^