Uhmook / Odeng (어묵 / 오뎅)
Whether you’re a veteran expat, a newbie to the teaching scene or just here on business – you can’t help but notice it or
smell it! Uhmook or Odeng is one of the most popular of all Korean foods. Loved by people of all ages all over SK, you’ll see school kids eating it and business men devouring it as they sway to stand up after one too many sojus, but what exactly is Odeng?
Uhmook is the Korean name for Odeng. I know, I know Korean people have problems with Japan and their legacy but they seem to forget it when it comes to this particular food item. With this said Odeng is the more popular name for it and all Koreans will know it by either name. Odeng is basically pounded fish / shellfish / crustacean flesh mied with flour and vegetables and then deep-fried.
The most common sort of Odeng is the kind that you see on sticks poking out of murky vats of steaming, salty broth. This is usually the lowest quality stuff available, but it still hits the spot. However with that said it doesn’t mean it’s not delicious and extremely satisfying. One of the great things about Korea is that they have food to suit the weather. Although the weather may be freezing in the winter time, a quick cup of the salt fishy broth and a couple of sticks of uhmook / odeng staves off your hunger for just over a dollar.
One stick or `gochi’ ranges in price from anywhere between 500W and 800W depending on the neighbourhood.
Some of the stalls have soy sauce or spicy chilli sauce to paint onto the odeng if you want to vary the taste.
Korean people will and do understandably go made over this stuff in the same way that westerners go mad over their naughty snacky comfort food.
Odeng doesn’t all have to be low quality stuff either. Busan, South Korea’s second largest city is famous as being the home of the best Odeng money can buy, and is a tourist attraction all by itself.
Last time we went to Busan we spent over W60,000 on Odeng!