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Winter is the time for Sweet Potatoes in Korea!

Posted on Mon, Jan 07, 2013 @ 03:50 PM

When people think of Korean cuisine, barbecue or kimchi probably comes to mind first.  Before I started teaching English in Korea, that was pretty much all I knew about Korean food. While I have come to discover several new Korean dishes and foods, the winter season is time for a food that I already was well acquainted with: the sweet potato!

Being from the south of the United States, my family is accustomed to eating lots of dishes that contain sweet potatoes. My mom makes a mean sweet potato casserole and each Thanksgiving, she will make a few sweet potato pies. Often times, she will just bake them whole and have them as a side dish for a meal. As a child, it took me a while to learn to like them, but now that I am older, I am in love with the taste. To my surprise and good fortune, sweet potatoes are extremely prevalent in Korea, especially during the winter, and are served in a diverse array of styles.

Sweet Potato Latte!

Another unique offering for English teachers in Korea is the sweet potato latte. They can be found in most large Korean coffee chain stores such as Tom Toms, Davinci coffee, and Angels in Us Coffee. This is a great beverage for a cold and wintery day in Korea.

 

Sweet potato french fries

One of my favorite snacks in Korea is sweet potato french fries! Cheap and salty, these can be found in lots of different places, from street vendors to small corner shops.

 

Sweet potato pizza

 

This one is still a little strange to me and many other English teachers in Korea: sweet potato pizza. Pizza and sweet potatoes just don't seem to belong together. But anyway, these pizzas are extremely popular here. The sweet potatoes are made into a mousse and added to the pizza, usually in a ring shape. (The pizza above has two sweet potato rings). Most pizza chains have this option (it's called ''gold style") so if you see the word "gold" on a pizza menu, it means it comes with sweet potato mousse.

grilled sweet potatoes in Korea

A very common sight in Korea: a street vendor selling roasted sweet potatoes. This might be my favorite way to eat a sweet potato. These vendors come out in the winter because this snack is a great way to warm you up when you are out walking on a cold day. 

Crispy sweet potatoes

Crispy sweet potatoes are similar to french fries because they are fried, but they are cut into ovals and eaten differently. These are usually served as one of the many, many side dishes in a Korean meal and the slight sweetness offers a contrast to the spiciness of kimchi. For a different taste, try dipping these in soy sauce.

 

So those are just a few ways that sweet potatoes can be served in Korea. I have also seen sweet potato ice cream, cakes, and chips during my time in Korea as an English teacher. Let me know what your favorite sweet potato dish is or if you have any other favorite Korean winter foods.

 

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Adam Montgomery is a 25-year old teacher at the Chungdahm Branch on Jeju.  He has been teaching in Korea for over a year.  When he is not teaching, he enjoys exploring the wonders of Jeju and Korea.

Tags: Korean culture, teaching in Korea, winter in Korea, food in Korea

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