Monday, December 1, 2008

On the other side of the crosswalk ...

... as I go home each day is a pojang-macha, street vendor cart.

Inside it sits a halmoni, grandmother.

She is selling boo-eung uh pang, literally fish bread. Here you can see a school of fish bread all lined up. She sells them three for 1,000 won.

The sign on her cart says something like "so mun nan, ing-eh odeng, ing-eh pang." I know that "odeng" is desiccated, reconstituted fish loaf food product (kind of marine SPAM), and "pang" is bread--young Mr Lee tells me that pang is from the French for bread, "pain". I don't know if that's true. You would think the Koreans had their own word for bread before the French came along.

What I really like about the sign is the come-on from that alluring fish-chef. Another potential submission for the suicide food webpage. But not really, since it turns out there is absolutely no fish in boo-eung uh pang. Take one of these golden brown, toasty-warm pastries into your hand ...

... and bite off its head.

Inside, no, that's not fish guts, it's sweet red bean paste. Yummy! Why is it shaped like a fish if there's no fish inside? I don't know. Mr Lee tells me it's one of many Korean puns, but can't explain it. Another teacher suggested it might have originally been filled with fish, but somewhere along the line the filling changed and it stuck. If you have a better theory, drop it off by clicking the comment link just below.


Adam said...

Here in Japan bread is also called pan. The word came with the Portuguese when they arrived to trade and spread Christianity. Odeng, by the way, comes from oden, Japanese reconstituted fish soup (unless I've got it backwards). We've also got fish bread here too, called taiyaki (literally, grilled bream). I've never had it do I don't know if there's beans inside, but I'm pretty sure that whatever it is, it's not fish.

Tuttle said...

Thanks for the interesting comments. I asked Hwang about the Portuguese connection and he said the pang thing is from French, but Korean definitely has Porto influences, for example, "Tam-bey" for tobacco.

The more I learn, the deeper the fish bread mystery grows!

Tanner Brown said...

You guys are totally missing the point. When you catch a fish from the ocean, and look inside its belly, do you expect to see little dead fishes? No. You expect to see some variety of bean paste, of course. Fish have been eating bean paste for centuries. That's why ol' grandma's fish are filled with bean paste. Mystery solved. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Taiyaki became boo-eung uh (a crucian carp) or Ing uh (a crucian carp) in Korea. I'm pretty sure it originated in Japan, possibly during the occupation years.

Anonymous said...

Ing uh is just a carp.

Red bean paste:
The ubiquitous, quintessential filling for any wa-ga-shi(traditional Japanese pastry). They didn't have much in the way of sweeteners until the advent of cheap sugarcane sugar in the 19th c.