Tag Archives: indulgence corner

Ingeobbang: Sign of Winter

The other week, I saw these curious stands popping up at intersections in my neighborhood. They were orange and had these plastic covers around the stall itself – usually clear – and there were the hangeul 흑쌀 잉어빵* (heukssal ingeobbang) scrawled across the top. To translate, it’s basically a fish pastry with a sweet bean filling encased in a thin wheat and glutinous rice flour dough. What made this place even more special is that there’s 흑쌀 (or black rice) included in the dough so it comes out slightly golden but with a grey-ish undertone. I broke down one day and got three for 1,000 won. What makes this even better is that they come in this bag:

There’s nothing better than eating fish (to me, it’s eating fish) and knowing that the bag the fish was in (and therefore the fish themselves) were telling me to be happy. But they’re seriously very cute – and good! I actually got them two days in a row because the first time I got them, I forgot to take pictures. But it’s dangerous! The stall is on my route home from school, so I pass it once a day at least, and when I exercise self-control, my nose can smell the delicious scent of it cooking in the metal molds. It’s heavenly. ^^ It’s a good thing that it’s too early to be open when I’m walking to school every morning or I can imagine I’d gain weight fast.

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Indulgence Corner: Tong San Ja

I was introduced to this beauty at school. In the “Other Subject” teacher’s office, basically home to the non-homeroom teachers, we have a nice little resting/kitchen area that boasts the Basket of Happiness. In this Basket of Happiness, there are snacks of every kind. One day, I found a rice-based snack in a plastic bag and I tried it. I immediately took a liking to it and so I asked around. Interestingly enough, the coteacher I questioned didn’t know – or forgot – the name, but she told me I could find it at Nong Hyup Hanaro Mart, which is a market boasting produce and merchandise from local farmers and/or Korean companies. When you shop there, you’re basically supporting the local economy.

And so I went and I found it. 🙂

Turns out it’s called 통산자, or tong san ja. I tried looking up more information on it, but nothing came up, though I did find some sites that sold this product. So, I’m only left with what my coteacher told me, which was how these little rice cake squares are usually offered on the memorial days and trips to the grave to honor their dead deceased loved ones. Well, I’m sure people eat them on other occasions, but she says that they’re often offered up for that purpose, because after she found out I liked them, she bought an entire box, rather like the one I purchased above, and all the other teachers ate it so there’s no taboo or anything surrounding it. I also tried looking up what the name meant, but what I got made little sense. According to what I found, 통산 meant to sum up or calculate and 자 meant.. I’m not quite sure. Something about everything. Basically, I gave up trying to find logical meaning to the name of this snack.

It doesn’t matter anyway, because I like it… whatever it is.

 

It sort of reminds me of a rice krispie – but not. Perhaps more akin to the Chinese sachima… or sha qi ma or 沙琪瑪, what have you. The former is because it’s a rice-based snack/pastry and the latter is because it’s soft and even the slightest bit chewy. However, it isn’t sticky to the touch, since it’s covered in the snow-white rice puffs, which tends to fall. Some bits may get stuck in between your teeth as your saliva begins to break down the molecules and it begins to become more malleable.

So, what you need to know: it’s basically a rice-based square with roughly 5 to 6-inch long sides and they usually come packaged in fives; since I brought it home, I already ate one… and a half. >.> The square itself is lightly sweet and the texture, as you break it to get a bite-sized piece, is a bit like foam as it gives in relatively straight lines, though softer and it doesn’t make as much noise as the pieces separate. The outside ‘puffs’ are light and relatively tasteless – think of the soft puffs of a popcorn, but broken into bits. I love chewing into it and feeling it give in between my teeth. I love the texture and the soft and chewy aspects of it at the same time. I love how it’s made from rice and I love how I can probably eat the entire box without noticing. On second thought, that’s probably a bad thing. >.> Anyway, I don’t know why I like this so much, but I do know it can get expensive, though I have no clue why. The one I got cost 2,100 won, so around $2, though the box next to it in the traditional snacks area was around 5,000 won. I can tell you that this one tastes perfectly fine, so perhaps it’s just a difference of brand.

Anyway, if you think about it, if it’s good enough for my deceased loved ones, then it’s definitely good enough for a living me. :]


Indulgence Corner: Orion’s Diget

I seem to be on a roll when it comes to these supposedly healthy snacks and sweets. As I type this, I’m snacking on these tofu chips that I obtained at Tous les Jour, a Korean bakery chain, which will be featured in an upcoming post on Korean bakeries. Nope, this post is dedicated to a cookie. ^^

See? There's a picture of whole wheat on the box. 😀

It’s not just any cookie, either. It’s 다이제, or pronounced Daijae and officially romanised as Diget, and it’s one that features “wheatmeal” in it as well as chocolate and we all know chocolate is complete win. This particular box contained 8 individual packs within, which, in turn, possesses 4 cookies each. It’s a crunchy cookie and as your teeth takes a bite, you can feel it breaking and crumbs start scattering, but no matter; you’re eating a cookie that makes you feel a little less guilty (exactly 9 percent less guilty) for eating said cookie. As you chew it and it combines with the saliva in your mouth, it becomes this cookie paste and you can taste the little grainy bits of this “wheatmeal” along with a bit of chocolate. I mean, you can see it too, but don’t you ever wish that you could sample items in pictures or on the TV, rather like in that one scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I personally think that layer of chocolate on the bottom could be just a bit thicker, but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking. The good news is that both the chocolate and the cookie itself aren’t too sweet; they’re just right. Dipping it in milk just makes it that much better.

What I really don’t get, however, is why it’s only 9 percent wheat meal. I mean, why not just go for the full ten percent or even take the leap to fifty percent? That would make me feel fifty percent better for being the only person who ate that entire box of cookies. Granted, it did take me almost a month to finish it, but still! It was all mine. Now that I think about it, I’m glad it was all mine. ..That’s not the point. The point is that I’m going to be diabetic before I know it. Also: what’s up with the name? What does “diget” even mean? The only thing I could think of was how perhaps it’s just Konglish for “digest” but “diget” makes it sound just that much more French (deejzhay) which makes it more chic and elegant and marketable all in one. I mean, the French are known for their baked goods, yes? Anyway, this would imply that the cookie is somewhat good for you; perhaps with the added fiber, it would help the foods you ingest go through your system better.

All around, it’s a good thing. :] Or so I tell myself.


Indulgence Corner: Yeonyangkaeng

I’ve always seen these boxes sold both individually and in packs. My male coworker told me that it was a traditional Korean candy. I was tempted – I’m all about trying new things and getting to know my new home – but then he said it was basically all sugar. That stopped me. I love sweets but if it’s too sweet, I don’t like it anymore. That was my main complaint about American sweets; they’re always too sweet! As a result, I always ended up overlooking it, but it was never completely out of my thoughts. I decided that I would try it one day. Today, I hung out with a friend who’s been living in Daejeon for two years with her Korean-American husband and his parents. We stopped by her place, which was pretty nice, and she gave me a bunch of stuff: a bag of mint, an apple, and this when she found out I had never tried it before.

Looking at the name, Yeonyangkaeng (연양갱), I had no clue what I would find inside. It was sort of heavy for candy and when you shook it, the contents moved up and down longitudinally. Then you open it up to find a foil-like packaging encasing something soft and malleable. My next thought: so, it’s a chewy candy? Anyway, back to the name. I was curious at if the Korean had any meaning so I looked up each character individually after I realised that all three of them showed no hits on the dictionary.

연 – (1) kite, (2) year, (3) stanza
양 – (1) sheep; (2) quantity, amount, volume; (3) yang [as in yin-yang]; (4) both; (5) miss [title for young females]
갱 – (1) gangster, mobster; (2) gang, mob

I soon decided that the words held no true hint for what lay within so I just opened it and saved me the trouble and thought-space. Yeah, I thought it looked pretty interesting as well. Taking a bite, then another, I decided it reminded me of sweet red beans, a common ingredient in traditional Asian sweets. I wasn’t sure, though, and I didn’t fancy looking up everything on the box, so I randomly googled this sweet and found this:

Haitai’s “Yeonyangkaeng” red-bean jelly bar, first introduced onto the local market in 1945 and still popular today, embodies the kind of existential, chicken-or-egg quandry that drives certain nationalistic Koreans crazy. Ask any Japanese person, and they’ll tell you that Yeonyangkeng is simply a Korean version of Yokan, a classic Japanese sweet made of adzuki-bean paste and agar traditionally served at tea ceremonies. When I called the Haitai headquarters, however, they insisted unequivocally — and rather haughtily — that Yeonyangkaeng is a “purely Korean” product. Meanwhile, a lot of younger Koreans assume that it’s a traditional Korean sweet as well, simply because it’s been around for so long. So which is it: Japanese or Korean? I would argue that that is a pointless question, since it is both and neither. Yes, Yeonyangkaeng was doubtless inspired by Japanese Yokan; at the same time, however, Yeonyangkaeng is as old as Korean democracy itself, and as such has become part of the historical fabric of Korean culture. Once again, it is both and neither, in the same way that French fries are neither “purely French” nor “purely American.” Anyway, the point is how does it taste? I would say that it tastes great — not too sweet, and a lot healthier than most of the other junk available in convenience stores these days. So lighten up, Haitai: regardless of its nationality, Yeonyangkaeng tastes exactly the same — and that’s good enough for me!
[source]

So! There you have it. It’s a red bean-jelly (or agar) bar. I agree with this dude; it’s not all that sweet, or at least it could be sweeter. However, that doesn’t mean it’s subtle. There’s definitely sugar. I only ate one-third of the “bar” before I decided to save it for tomorrow and I’m definitely going to search for some water after this. It is pretty good though. I normally don’t like beans but there are no chunks – just the smooth, bean texture, somewhat similar to mashed potatoes, and the sugar content just creeps up on you. However, without looking anything up, I know it contains 1.3% locally-grown glutinous rice (국산 찹쌀 1.3% 함유). Perhaps that’s the thickening agent that they used?


Indulgence Corner: Bungeossamanko

I love the fish-shaped pastries here. Last week, I was on a mission to get ice cream but I places I went to only had individually-sold ones. I decided to get two different ones to last me until I could go to Lotte Mart to get a nice-sized box of the cold treats. This was one of them… because I love the pastries, why not the ice cream?

Bungeobbang in ice cream form. ❤

Instead of the soft, thin dough-crust surrounding a sweet bean mixture, there’s a light, rice-based “shell” surrounding a thick layer of vanilla ice cream and a 1.5 mm thick layer of a sweet, vaguely bean-y spread. Yes, that picture is somewhat misleading.

I wanted to kiss it goodbye... and took a chunk of his face instead. :/ Oops.

I thought it was pretty good. It’s a good size and I’m glad the picture was misleading. The ice cream wasn’t all that sweet but the bean layer was – in fact, I actually ended up drinking some water after finishing this animal-friendly fish. The design’s cute and I love the outer shell since it gave it a nice texture and something to crunch into. The shell, however, is somewhat like two parts coming together so it moved from time to time, threatening to open and spill out its precious cargo, but that was it. 🙂 Nothing spilled; I wouldn’t let it. Now, my only comment is if they lightened up on the sugar they added in the bean, I would love this a lot more. Also: I always see it in packs of five or six for around 5,000 won, give or take several hundred won, depending on where you go. Isn’t that a bit steep? :/ Even for a snack favorite?


Indulgence Corner: Lotte Jewel Ice Bar

Ice cream is becoming a necessity after I get home from work and sometimes, I may indulge in one after taekwondo. Like tonight. Right after school today, I went straight to Lotte Mart because every other place doesn’t sell ice cream in packs, which seriously irks me. I can’t go to the store every day to buy just one individually wrapped ice cream product! What kind of ice cream fiend would I be?? Well, I went out and got a two pack – one of those 1+1 ones (aka buy one get one free) and on top of me obtaining twelve bars of ice cream, one of them happens to be a healthy one!

The red tape attached it to the other bag. ^^ Ignore it.

It's simple and the colors are subtle; rather calming in a way. Definitely cooling. ^^

You heard me right; I said healthy. On the back of the bag, it proudly states that one bar contains 15 mg of vitamin C and 2.5 grams of dietary fiber – not to mention how it’s only 70 calories per bar. I wasn’t sure how it would taste, but it turned out to be pretty good and thirst quenching, though I still downed a cup of water to top it off with all the sweating today’s workout gave me. Basically, it’s name isn’t misguided. It’s sort of subtly sweet and slightly tangy – somewhat reminiscent of frozen yoghurt but a bit more watered down. Scattered throughout the stark white bar itself are these pastel-colored cubes. I thought they would be like jello, but they aren’t. They are literally lightly colored ice cubes that gave a nice, crunchy texture to the somewhat softer and sno-cone like white mass that surrounds it. I know because I wasn’t expecting it so the first cube almost fell onto the ground and the second cube did end up on the ground. >.> I quickly picked it up and popped it into my mouth; five second rule and all, haha… Can’t go around wasting edible things like that and definitely not ice cream.

My ending verdict? It’s a good, simple bar that makes me feel better than eating the real ice cream bars that contain probably twice the amount of calories. It shall be my post-taekwondo bar! Either that or on my next trip, I quickly find another ice-based bar to fulfill my sweet tooth and need for cooling down…

I also need to figure out how my AC works before I really need it.


Indulgence Corner: Lotte Okdongja Ice Cream Bar

Spring is finally reaching Korea – or at least Daejeon – and it’s more imperative than ever to have a stash of ice cream in the freezer. Honestly speaking, though, is there ever a time when ice cream isn’t necessary? Exactly. Ice cream is always welcome whether there’s a blizzard outside or you’re dehydrated in the Saharan dessert. Or it’s just a particularly warm day out. Plus, I’m someone who decidedly dislikes weather that over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Okay, fine. The temperature starts feeling warmer than I’d like at around 70 degrees, but regardless of the details, the fact of the matter is that it’s getter warm here. This is when ice cream comes to the rescue. 🙂

The ice cream. ❤ This side is pictured because the other side has green tape running across it...

First thing’s first, I had no clue what 옥동자 (okdongja) meant so I looked it up. This was what I got:

옥동자 (玉童子)

  1. [Darling] baby boy
  2. Precious son
  3. The name of a narcissistic character

The anatomy of your deliciously precious baby boy.

Now that I know, I don’t know if I would have purchased it in the first place. Really? What about the daughter, huh?? Well, sexist names aside, let’s focus on how we’re eating precious, narcissistic baby boys. Like all other ice creams, I don’t think I’ll ever find one that I hate. However, I can’t say this was my favorite – nor can I say it was bad. As you can see, it’s multi-layered, which is something I love. You get more for you money: three different flavors all in one. My personal favorite is the hard chocolate shell. The white outermost layer appears to be milk flavored as it’s only faintly sweet, which is a good thing. The innermost ice cream is some sort of mixed flavor – I would say chocolate, but I honestly still have no clue what it is exactly. It’s sort of milk-and-vanilla-y but there are bits of some grainy stuff that reminds me of the sweet bean that is often found in Asian desserts but it also reminds me of oreo chocolate cookie chunks as well. O_o

The bar is a bit less sweet than other bars, which is saying something considering sweets in Asia tend to be more subtle, something I greatly enjoy. However, sometimes, you just want that sugar kick. I wouldn’t say you should throw out this bar completely, though. That chocolate shell is quite yummy, though it stops two-thirds of the way down where the innermost filling takes up most of it. The inside is intriguing and is still making me guess and the outside is too thin to truly register.

One matter still remains, though: why in the world is this ice cream named after beloved narcissistic sons?


Indulgence Corner: Lotte Ggamakun Gold

I finally finished the waffle cone ice cream and while they were absolutely a delight to consume, it’s time for the next generation. This time, I purchased a two-pack of ice cream bars that were once again buy-one-get-one free. 🙂 The difference: these are the ones in the aluminum bags, the packaging of choice for Korean ice cream. ❤

Just LOOK at it!

It’s a Lotte brand ice cream called Ggamakun Gold and underneath it, there are the words “Black Crunch Bar”. Honestly, those words make a lot of sense. It’s essentially vanilla ice cream studded with these precious gems of chocolately balls of crunchiness that’s covered in a layer of chocolate and then rolled in chocolate cookie crumbs, rather reminiscent of Oreos.

Look at it beckon to you. ...My preciousssss....

First of all, it’s full of win. With the first bite, you can feel your teeth sinking in between the chocolately bits of cookie and it finally cracks the hard, chocolate shell. Then you feel the cooling sensation as your incisors sink into the ice cream itself. It’s truly an amazing experience. Then — it hits your tongue and your taste buds explode in an avalanche of OMGIWANTMORE!!!! Or something like that, Either way, it’s still a mind blowing experience. I love the cookie bits, for one, and ice cream’s always good in my book. 🙂 The only downside is that it can get a little messy, but I think that can easily be overlooked. Also: no worries to be had! It’s not too sweet and is just right. Just thinking about it makes me want another one.

“]

I killed it!!! ...With happiness. :

Alas, I just had one two hours ago. Sadness.
Must. Save. It. For. Tomorrow.


Indulgence Corner: Ssal Gwa Ja Rice Cakes

The Chinese Version...

Do you remember those Chinese rice crackers that are so crunchy and are crusted with so much MSG but you just can’t help but eat it because it’s just that good? Okay, well, perhaps they’re not truly that good, but it’s better than eating your veggies and anything remotely nutritional. 😉 Well, I found the Korean equivalent, except these are merely dusted in an MSG flavoring powder and they’re also bigger and are interspersed with little bits of seaweed. I found them in the traditional Korean snacks aisle.

I’ve decided I love them.
Their price also helps, which was why I ended up purchasing them in the first place, to be honest. I was walking up and down the snack aisles trying to figure out what next to try and then I found these simple little beauties.

Seriously, though! Who doesn’t like rice crackers? They’re delightfully crispy and they make the most mouth-watering crunching noises when you bite into them. They also make annoying crumbs that you have to clean up afterwards, but there’s a price for everything. As for the MSG, they’re called a snack for a reason.

I ❤ Rice Crackers. 🙂

Just look at the crunchy goodness!

Already, you can taste it, can’t you? They’re slightly sweet but the rice cracker part of it offsets the sweetness perfectly. The seaweed’s a nice touch and I’m happy that there isn’t as much MSG, though there is some. After all, then it’d just be a flattened rice puff in the shape of a cookie, though nowhere as sweet.

Well, I like it! And so should you.


Indulgence Corner: Lotte Margaret Soft Cookies

I first tasted these little morsels of happiness when they were given to us as a snack during orientation. Ever since, I’ve been eyeing them whenever I passed by at the market and even at the convenience stores. They were always too expensive though – or at least that’s what I told myself. They come in boxes of 12 or 24 individually wrapped cookies and they usually came in at around 4,000 won. Today, while on a grocery run to Nonghyup Hanaro Mart, I saw them again while browsing through every aisle so I would know what the market offered. This time, they were only a little over 2,000 won for a 12-pack box – so I got them.

The Box of Absolute Happiness

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