4.049 Busan Eomuk

Cycle 4 – Item 49

23 (Sat) February 2013

Busan Eomuk


at Jaws Ddeokbokki

-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-


Whereas street food is available in Oksu-Dong both at actual food carts, I go to brick-and-mortar Jaws for the odeng aka eomuk aka Busan eomuk.  Whatever they’re called, the fishcake skewers have a much fuller fish flavor and chewier texture and come in a much richer broth, and they’re a bit more expensive at 700 won apiece, 2,000 won for 3, compared to 500 won each at the carts, where the fishcakes are rather pasty in flavor and crumbly in texture, along with a rather watery broth.

(I prefer the food cards for other stuff.)

Typically, customers grab sticks directly out of the vat, stand to the side and eat the fishcakes directly off the skewers.

As previously explained, Japanese-style fishcakes satsumaage are traditionally referred to in Korean as “odeng.”  This is something of a misnomer, derived from the Japanese oden nabe, a soup that includes fishcakes, among other things.  These days, some places insist on referring to them as “eomuk (어묵) = eo (fish) + cake (muk).”  The fishcakes were imported to Korea during the Japanese Occupation via Busan, where they quickly entered the mainstream as street food, and never looked back.  Some pioneering fishcake monger in Busan was undoubtedly responsible for the naming error.

Upon request, the fishcakes are cut into pieces and served in a bowl with the broth and a few toppings, including deep-fried/diced tofu, sliced scallions, and dried/roasted/crumbled laver, which makes it look and taste like an actual dish, rather than a casual street snack.



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