Here we are at lovely Insa-Dong, in Seoul, a hot tourist spot for anyone looking for some traditional korean goods. This can range from key chains and pencil pouches to traditonal brushes and old-fashioned snacks.
The snack I’d like the especially highlight today is 엿 [Yut]. This Korean sweet dates back to God knows when and is made from boiling malt and rice into a thick syrup and letting it harden into a hard, chewy candy.
Yes, that giant almost indistinguishable blob is in fact Peanut Yut. Normally, on a smaller scale, it is cut up into bite-size pieces and powdered with malt flour. In this case, a guy shaves of pieces of it with a plane. (No, not a flying plane, but a wood plane.) He then takes the shavings and puts them on a chopstick for your easy enjoyment.
Surprisingly, though there is no sugar in this, it is incredibly sweet. It has that malty sweet flavor, almost like caramel, that is overpowering if you eat too much of the stuff. (Heck, we split this between the four of us and couldn’t finish it). It has a very tough consistency that is ten times chewier than taffy or caramels. It’s not necessarily sticky to the touch, but if you decide to take a huge bite of this stuff and chew on it, say goodbye to your fillings or to ever opening your jaw again. This stuff can glue your jaw shut like nothing else.
For this very reason, saying you’re “feeding someone yut” or telling someone to “eat yut” is considered a HUGE insult in Korean. I’d say it’s on par with (if not surpassing) telling someone to “shut the f*** up.”
So, be advised, enjoy this tasty treat in small portions and let it melt in your mouth, not pull out your teeth.