South Korea has its fair share of tourist attractions, from ancient palaces to modern underground subways. Nevertheless, for Muslim travelers there’s more reason to travel than to just enjoy spectacular sights, namely, good food that does justice to local flavors, that is Halal at the same time.
Guess what? Halal Korean food is not difficult to find! Good news for Muslim foodaholics looking to travel to South Korea - the cheap and yummy street food in South Korea is also, more importantly, Muslim-friendly. Countless must-try Halal Korean dishes are served in a Muslim-friendly environment, that is, they refrain from serving alcohol, and even have a prayer room. Hooray!
Yet, if nothing out of all the halal options satisfy you, the numerous delicious vegetarian options available will definitely tantalize your taste buds, leaving you wanting more of the Korean goodies.
Tteok-bokki is probably the most popular South Korean snack sold by street food vendors in nearly any alley of Seoul. This snack, sold in paper cups, is a cocktail of chewy rice cake with the tantalizing “gochujang”, an authentic Korean sweet and spicy sauce made with red peppers. With every bite of the rice cake, the tang of the Korean sauce will hit you with truly local flavors.
Halal Taste Tip! Some vendors tend to add in fish and meat in their sauce, to ensure it is Halal all you need to do it double check with the vendor and opt for a vegetarian sauce.
A tasty yet healthy meal within a tight budget- the kimbap which is a Korean alternative to the Japanese sushi is a must try, for the different versions of the dish it offers to satisfy all taste buds. Like the original sushi, the kimbap too is a roll of sticky rice in a layer of seaweed drizzled with oil and garnished with sesame seeds. You can order your kimbap with various yummy fillings: pickled vegies, seafood, meat or tofu. Keeping aside the numerous variants of the dish, the mouthwatering Halal choice remains the Chamchi Kimbap, a Korean sushi with tuna filling.
After a tummy full of the Korean goodies, Hotteok is the kind of guilty pleasure that you somehow manage to fit into your stuffed belly. This local dessert is one for the sweet tooth and the inquisitive food geek who likes to experiment with flavors. Hotteok is a traditional Korean dessert, and a hot favorite to travelers. In all its simplicity, hotteok is a pancake. However, the extraordinary aspect to this pancake is that its dough is stuffed with delicacies like honey, nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon to top it all off. Served hot and crispy, each mouthful of this dessert will leaving you craving for more.
Taste Tip! For the best experience of hotteok, try them at a couple of places as all vendors have their own secret for its preparation!
Golden Taste Tip! Try the hotteok at Insa-dong for a savory alternative with noodles and veggie-stuffed pancakes.
Price - 2,000 ₩/ piece, 3,000 ₩ for two pieces.
Yet another Korean pancake. This version however, is a pancake prepared from wheat flour, a batter of eggs, and for the Korean twist, stalks of green onion are added. To top it off, these ingredients are accompanied by shrimp or squid for the Haemul Pajeon, served with soy sauce and the famous Korean chilli dip. The haemul panjeon is just another version of the pancake, so if you don't do seafood, you can still conveniently stick to the yummy vegetarian option.
Tried it? Liked it? A taste tip your way! Hop onto the Seoul subway line 1 to Hoegi station and take Exit 9. Here, the Pajeon Alley (located near Kyung Hee University) will treat you well, satisfying all your pajeon cravings.
Price/ piece - 5,000 ₩
Not worried about your calorie intake when on vacation? Then these Korean deep fried treats are for you. Twigim is the Korean version of tempura, in which the main ingredient is coated in batter and deep fried to get sizzling, crispy, mouthwatering delights. The choice for the main ingredient can be shrimp, vegetables, greens like spinach, boiled eggs, but the most popular ones are the sweet potatoes. Order an assortment of twigims, freshly fried according to your choice and simply dig in.
Halal Taste Tip! Avoid the mandu twigim; deep fried, batter-coated dumpling with meat filling!
In the mood for a dumpling? These Korean dumplings stuffed with healthy veggies, grilled on a hot pan are quite an apt Muslim-friendly alternative to the dumpling lovers who aren’t so sure about twigim. Confirm with your vendor if these Yachae mandus are Halal, for they may be cooked in alcohol, lard or have any kind of meat.
Price/piece - 1,000 ₩
Crave for a Korean snack to fulfill your untimely hunger? The best options for a substantial bite are Bungeoppang, a fish shaped bread filled with red bean paste, cream, custard or cheese, and Gyeranppang, a tidy parcel of a whole egg baked inside an oblong shaped bread garnished with seeds, nuts and parsley.
Both these snacks have been out on the Korean streets for a while now, and are known as the all-time favorite option for breakfast.
Price/piece - 2,000 ₩
For a healthier alternative to tasty Korean snacks which have a whole lot of fat, these fish cakes served on sticks are a good choice. The eomuk skewers are steamed, then marinated with a vegetable and seafood broth. Before devouring the fish cakes, dip them in either the nutritious broth, or spice them up with gochujang, the Korean chilli sauce.
Taste Tip! The broth, the chilli sauce and any other dipping served is unlimited by the generous Korean vendors. Enjoy them with your fish sticks to your heart’s content!
Image Credit: happy11u, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
The most popular skewed South Korean food is the Ojingeo Gui, squid on a stick. This abundantly available street food is simply prepared by inserting squid cubes in skewers and grilling them over a traditional charcoal barbecue, infusing this delight with rustic, earthy flavors. Get your hand on this dish while at major markets or even at narrow foodie streets, vendors serving the ojingeo gui are never unoccupied!
Indulge in Halal street food with authentic Korean flavors. There's more to South Korea than the endless shopping it offers, than the fascinating palaces, the metropolitan city centres. South Korea is also about dining; fine dining at top notch restaurants and on the contrary, the unbeatable street vendors serving delectable Korean snacks. Visit South Korea for a Halal, Muslim friendly vacation.
The Ultimate Foodie Tip! Your trip to South Korea is unfinished without going to the Korean street food heaven Myeongdong, Seoul. To get there, all you need to do is hop on to Seoul Subway Line 4 to Myeongdong Station, and take Exit 7.