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I was really surprised the first time one of my readers requested a recipe for ppopgi. I had totally forgotten about it!
When I was in elementary school in Korea, there was a ppopgi vendor outside my school every day, and I was forever tempted by him, so the request brought back a lot of good memories.
The ingredients can’t be simpler; basically just sugar and baking soda. The key to good ppopgi is all technique, timing, and patience. The candy is sweet, but also a little smoky, nutty, and bitter. You might expect it to be hard and sticky, but the baking soda makes it light, airy, and brittle. This candy has a few different regional names. When I was young, we used to call it “gukja,” which means “ladle” and refers to the ladle it was traditionally made in. It was only later that I heard it called “ppopgi” or “dalgona.”
When I was a kid, anything sweet made for an awesome snack for me and my friends. The ppopgi didn’t even have a stick; thats new technology! These days everyone is afraid to eat sugar, but back then we couldn’t get enough of it. Some of my friends even used to snack on sugar water!
After school we’d gather around the vendor and watch him melt the sugar, mix it up, add the baking soda, and make the candy. He had a few different patterns he used for the designs: a bird, a fish, a star, and a flower. And if you can eat the candy around the design without cracking it, you win a free ppopgi.
I always hoped he would firmly press the pattern into the candy and make a good strong impression that I could easily pop out, but he was so tricky. He only pressed it in for a quick second before wordlessly handing it to me. He didn’t need to explain the challenge: I knew what I was supposed to do. Preserve the shape in the middle and eat everything else. I used all kinds of techniques: nibbling, licking, pinching, but the surprising brittleness of the candy always beat me and it would shatter.
He sometimes let me clean his ladle, and I made sugar water like I show you in the video. I thought I was getting a real treat at the time!
Ppopgi is strictly a street food in Korea, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it at home and challenging your family members and friends to see if they can save the design without cracking. Try it and have fun! Let me know how it goes!
Sugar and baking soda
I made a dozen of candies at the hotel where I stayed 1 night before the shooting day. : )
Thanks to everyone at YouTube LA Space for filming me there,
and a special thanks to Anthony Fantano!
Posted Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 at 12:57 pm
Tagged: bbobkki, bbopgi, dalgona, 뽑기, 뽑기 만드는법, 국자, 달고나, gukja, how to make ppopki, korean food, Korean food blog, Korean food website, Korean kitchen, Korean recipes, Korean street snack, ppopgi, ppopki, sugar candy, sugar candy lollipop, YouTube LA
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