A Curse and a Candy All in One

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.



Filed under food, korea

4 responses to “A Curse and a Candy All in One

  1. Alejandra

    It reminds me a lot of leche quemada when it’s cooked to a tough chewy consistency. Also a very overwhelmingly sweet candy from a not so originally sweet source.

    But either way, it looks awesome. I wish I could have some!

  2. oh i luv yut! i wish i had some right now. it is so addictive, isn’t it? when my mom brings some back for me from Korea, i can never stop eating it.

  3. Reno

    That was interesting. My daughter is in Korea, and I asked her to bring home some Yut. I sent her a link to your site, as a good description. I’ve never found any in the US, despite asking for it at several Oriental markets. Does it go by a different name?

    I’m familiar witht he insult, but never understood it. What you say makes sense to me. Where did you learn this type of thing?

    • sliminny

      It’s rarely available in America. I’ve only seen it a few places, sometimes in candy/snack aisles and sometimes in the frozen foods sections. I don’t think it really goes by any other name besides 엿, Yeot, or Yut.

      I’m Korean, so it just something I learned from my mom. I hope you enjoy your tasty Korean treats!

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