In fact, it’s far from it. Sundae (순대), pronounced ‘soondeh’, is Korean blood sausage and one of the nation’s favorite meal between meals. Although sundae’s image is generally that of casual street food (see fellow blogger Steve’s post about Korean street food here), there are many different varieties and dishes of sundae to please people of all palates.
Sundae is traditionally made by stuffing pig intestines with a mixture of sticky rice, bean sprouts, cabbage or other green vegetables seasoned with garlic, ginger, sesame oil, doenjang or ganjang before being steamed.
The most basic type of sundae is served in its natural steamed form. The sliced sundae is either eaten as is or dipped in condiments of choice: seasoned salt or sauces. Since Korean dishes come with a large variety of banchan, the dish gets balanced out quite nicely.
Seasoned salt usually has red pepper powder added to it, while the sauces vary by restaurant.
Besides the traditional style, the most common sundae these days is more simplified with glass noodles as its only stuffing. Casual style sundae is generally the glass noodle type and eaten with a sprinkle of seasoned salt:
Other dishes featuring sundae are:
Sundae bokkeum (순대볶음) is stir-fried sundae in gochujang (red pepper paste) with an assortment of vegetables. Sometimes it is seasoned with other condiments instead of gochujang, but the spicy version is the most common.
Sundae guk (순대국, sundae soup) or sundae gukbap (순대 국밥, sundae soup with rice) is another common dish made with sundae. Sundae and other offal are cooked in pork bone stock with noodles in a hot pot, seasoned with salt, pepper, and red pepper paste according to preference. Some people like to add a bowl of cooked rice into the soup to eat together and not separately: guk bap.
The recipe for sundae varies by region, with sundae from the Northern provinces Pyeongando and Hamgyeongdo being the most famous. In Gangwondo, sundae takes another form by stuffing squid:
Ojingeo sundae (오징어 순대) is made by steaming squid stuffed with a similar mixture used for regular sundae. Sometimes the stuffing will include the squid’s ink.
You can get sundae on the streets, in restaurants specializing in northern Korean cuisine, and of course, at tteokbokki (떡볶이) places. Most major cities in Korea also have a special district where sundae restaurants are clustered, called “Sundae Town”s.
Seoul’s Sundae Town is in Sillim-dong, near the metro station of the same name. The restaurants are famous for their sundae bokkeum, both the usually spicy and non-spicy baek sundae bokkeum (백순대 볶음, white sundae bokkeum). The district went through major renovations last winter, offering a clean and pleasant eating atmosphere.
If you have only tried the casual type of sundae offered with tteokbokki or didn’t realize that there were other ways to enjoy sundae, now’s the time to go out and try out some new dishes. If you like the simplified type, it’s almost most certain you’ll enjoy the traditional sundae, so why not give it a try?