I passed carts offering bibimbap, bulgogi hot dogs, deopbap, omurice, hamburgers, bokkeumbap, and something that one cart called poktanbap (폭탄밥), or ‘bomb rice.’
This last one was something new to me, so I definitely had to give it a try, especially as the sucker for anything that screams ‘spicy!’ that I am.
What I got was a decent-sized bowl of rice with ground beef, sesame oil, a slice of ‘cheese,’ a fried egg, two different kinds of dried seaweed, some fish roe, two generous dollops of gochujang, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Total cost: 2,000 won, less than a plate of tteokbokki will cost you at most stalls. A large serving is just an extra 500.
And how was it? Pretty much as you might imagine all those ingredients thrown together tasting – which is to say it falls squarely under the rubric of comfort food.
With a name and description like that, it’s a dish I just had to try to recreate in my kitchen.
The fish roe is indispensable for the recipe. The snap of each egg as you chew creates a popping sound like that of firecrackers or crispy rice. I think Pokjukbap (폭죽밥), or “Firecracker Rice,” may be a more accurate name for this fun, uncommon Korean comfort food.
*The processed stuff that comes wrapped individually in plastic. It’s not very healthful, but it’s “authentic.” If you have access — and the money — to buy the good stuff, use it. I’d advise using a mild, subtle-flavored cheese though. This is not the recipe for trying out that sharp cheddar.
Please read more about the Noryangjin neighborhood on Seoul-Suburban and snoop around a little bit to discover other underexposed and under-appreciated areas of Seoul to visit vicariously.