Hoddeok is a Winter street food in Korea that is slowly transitioning into year-round fare. In essence, it’s a fried yeast dumpling, flattened to a pancake, with sticky cinnamon sugar centre. From a brief trawl of vendors around Myung-dong, there seemed to be two versions: one fried in a sandwich iron (above) resulting in a crispier outer shell and more consistent disc shape; the other (below), fried and pressed onto a greasy hotplate. Both delicious.
Ingredients – Makes 5
1 1/4 cups plain flour
6 tbsp milk
Pinch of salt
To start the yeast:
1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/4 tsp white sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 tbsp brown sugar
Mix the yeast, white sugar and water and leave in a warm place to ferment for 15 minutes. Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the salt, milk and yeasty water. Mix well, cover and leave to rise for two hours. Go see a movie or something.
Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together for stuffing. Oil up your hands (if not sufficiently oiled from movie popcorn) and take about 1/5 of the dough, flatten into a thick disk and place a tablespoon of stuffing inside. Seal like a dumpling.
Add oil to frypan and heat. Place your sugar filled dumpling into the oil. When brown, turn over and flatten the dumpling into a disk with a spatula. Cook until browned.
If Coney Island witnessed the birth of the hot dog, Seoul in South Korea saw subsequent generations mutate into a an entirely new genus of animal. An animal coated in a skin of batter and french fries then presented deep-fried on a stick.
After first witnessing this monstrosity on Newley Purnell‘s site, I thought that chasing it down would be difficult. That it would be the type of food that only demented South Korean carnies sold for a scant few days of a State Fair until their consumers ended up in the waiting queue for a heart bypass. The taste is about as obvious as it looks: greasy but still crispy fries glued to a hotdog with a thick, neutral batter.
It turns out that Seoul is packed full of artisan hot dog vendors. Vendors wrap them in bacon, mashed potato, corn batter or what looked to be seaweed then invariably deep fry them. I spotted three french fry-coated hotdog vendors in the narrow alleys of Myeong-dong alone and a few more in the neighbouring Namdaemun Market.
home-made budae jigae
I blame this mutation on the Korean War. When meat was scarce in the years during and after the war, Koreans made do with whatever they could scavenge from the surplus from the US armed forces bases – Spam and hotdogs. To make these items edible for Koreans, the locals mixed them together with the paste gochujang in a makeshift stew named “Budae jjigae” (부대찌개) – literally “base stew”. Over the subsequent fifty years, the locals have grown to love the processed meat-flavored soup and it now graces franchise restaurant menus, the only difference being that the stew now contains actual meat along with the mechanically-separated variety.
There seems to be no particular rules to making the stew, insofar that you need gochujang and hotdogs to start, and then whatever seems to be lying about the average Korean kitchen to continue: kimchi, frozen dumplings, greens, ramen, rice cake, actual meat. 50 years of hotdog flavoured broth has to do strange things to your palate and drive you towards experimenting with hotdogs in an obscene and deep-fried manner.
Try: French Fry Coated Hot Dog on a Stick Recipe