I don’t know how you feel about it, but I deeply love pastries and other confectionery treats. We find some things here and there, but having Western dishes in Korea is just like having Korean food in other countries. It might taste good but it’s just not the same. So, instead, I have become a connoisseur of traditional Korean desserts. And, after trying some, maybe you will too!
Of course, songpyeon is the first one on the list. This is one of Korea’s most traditional desserts, especially during the recent Chuseok holiday. It is made out of tteok (rice cake). And so it has the chewy consistency that Koreans love so much and a nutty taste given by the sesame seed filling.
Plus, it has a pine aroma as it is traditionally steamed with pine needles. Each province in the country has at least one unique songpyeon characteristic. Chungcheong, for example, is famous for its pumpkin songpyeon.
There is even this belief that the person who makes beautifully-shaped songpyeon will meet a good spouse or give birth to a beautiful baby. Easy to understand now how some songpyeons are so beautifully and carefully made, right?
Might look like a protein bar at first glance but it is made of rice. Although you also steam it, this time we use the actual glutinous rice grains mixed with chestnuts, jujubes, and pine nuts. It is seasoned with honey or brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and also cinnamon. Most Korean people choose to use the pressure cooker to make it but the one made the traditional way can taste even better.
The best thing about this dessert is how healthy it is – hence the name yaksik (medicinal food). Nutty flavors with cinnamon and honey can never go wrong, right?
Medicinal food is great, but you know what is even better? Tea food! That is literally what dasik means. Brought to Korea along with the tea from India, it was originally eaten by royals, we can also say that it is also literally a tea snack.
Bite-sized cookies that typically include rice flour, black sesame, soybean, chestnut, and pine pollen in the ingredients list. They are gorgeous, delicious, and also very light. The real task will be having you stop yourself from eating more and more!
The famous shaved ice we eat during summer is none other than Bingsu. This is older than you think: its first appearance dates back to the 14th century. Of course, some changes were made here in and there throughout the years. Namely, this was first a winter treat due to the lack of refrigeration.
It has changed a lot along with the modernization of society, but the idea is pretty much the same. It is shaved milk ice with sweet toppings, the most common being red bean paste. However, it is just as common to find fruit toppings nowadays. And, a lot of Koreans seem to think of mango as the best of them. Personally, I love strawberry bingsu but let us be honest here, they all taste heavenly!
This is a filled pancake, very common as street food. Unlike most dishes cited here, hotteok is made out of wheat flour instead of rice.
It is also a younger recipe compared to the ones I have talked about above. This is a fermented pancake and therefore takes hours to prepare. The filling is made out of brown sugar, honey, chopped peanuts, and cinnamon. I have seen green tea hotteok too, though I have never eaten that version. I love the texture, especially if there are sliced nuts on top. Yummy!
And there you have it! This is my list of the top 5 Korean desserts you should give a try. The best thing about all of them? If you ever try them, like them, and want to make them yourself at home, you can! They are all easy recipes. Give it a try!
Want to try more delicious Korean treats? Click Here for the top 10 modern Korean snacks!