In Korea, Bundaegi is a staple food well-loved by both children and adults, and not as out of the ordinary as you'd think. Ah, bundaegi, a food for the bold and adventurous! Also known as 번데기, or Korean silkworm pupae, it’s one of the little delicacies of the country. Whether you had your first bundaegi experience in Korea, or you’re hearing about this for the first time, we’re here to tell you all about this snack. Here's a little history lesson about silkworm pupae: bundaegi became popular during the Korean War due to a protein shortage. Now, they’re one of the most popular streets and are often served with alcohol. We're talking soju, beer, sake... you name it! What a combination!
I know, I know, for some people, they can’t get the thought of eating bugs or insects out of their heads. But, for those that tried these pupae and love it, they know it’s a drool-worthy dish. The combination of flavors and textures of bundaegi are a must try on your bucket list, similar to that of escargot, chicken feet, or frog legs. Don’t judge a food by its look and you might just discover your next favorite food! Here's the low down on beongedi!
The Ultimate Guide to Bundaegi
Silkworm Pupae Health Benefits
You would not believe the amount of benefits you get when eating silkworms! That’s right, those South Korean delicacies can help with reducing diabetes and fatigue, as well as gaining stronger muscles! Medically, the fibers in silkworms are valued for bio-compatibility, meaning, they receive a minimal immune response when sewn in with human tissues. Also, they are useful for surgical operations for growing new bones, nerves, and blood vessels.
When it comes to your health, researchers found that silkworm pupae has a higher protein and amino acid content than soybeans. They also have unsaturated fatty acids that will lower blood lipid levels. Not only do they have a unique flavor, they’re also good for you! Silkworms also have a high calcium content, and low fat content, which makes them so popular around Asian countries!
Lots of tourists that go to Korea talk with the locals, and they always say that people love it to fight against obesity, diabetes, and fatigue. To me, that sounds like so many benefits, if you can stomach and imagine that they are indeed amazing for you!
Silkworm Pupae Nutrition
For a 100g serving size of pupae, here are the general nutrition facts:
Dietary Fiber: 0g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
The "mudfish" is actually called a pond loach. These are bottom feeder pond fish that are extremely prevalent in Japan and Korea. They're popular as aquarium fish since they come in all different colors and clean the bottom of tanks. Though it doesn't necessarily sound appealing to eat, they are very tasty and good for your health.
Silkworm Pupae For Sale (Where Can You Buy in Korea?)
You can find most Beondegi in street food carts throughout Southern Korea! They are best served boiled, steamed, or fried. Usually, you can find them in paper cups with toothpicks for easy snacking. Of course, silkworm pupae has a distinct smell, and the tastes are slightly fishy and nutty. With an outer shell that’s crunchy, and a soft and juicy inside, silkworm pupae is irresistible!
Also, you can also look for them inside grocery stores to make them at home! Most stores sell them for about 2000 won, or roughly $2 USD. They are sold in cans at most corner stores and markets. Some notable brands are Yoo Dong, Hiso Crispy Fried Silkworm Pupae Snacks, and Manitou!
Best Places in Korea to Try Silkworm Pupae
If you’re going to visit Korea in the near future, here are some places you can try bundaegi! Most of these places are markets that sell souvenirs, street food, clothing, and more! You can find them cooking in metal vats, and have a yummy, earthy scent in the air!
Namdaemun Market in Seoul, Korea
21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, 04529, South Korea
Another great place is the E-Mart Supermarket in Jung-gu, South Korea.
400 Cheonggyecheon-ru, Hwanghak-dong, Jung-gu, South Korea
Those are only two specific places to try bundaegi -- if you have a favorite street vendor out in Korea, let us know!
All in all, bundaegi is awesome when they're boiled stove-top. Part of what makes Korea fun is the street food. Trying them is definitely an experience you'll never forget! People love them paired with alcohol, as they say it can ease your apprehension. Or, if you don't drink, eat it as Banchan (side dishes) with Korean BBQ, salads, or other tasty dishes! When pupae can no longer make silk, why waste them when you can eat them?! Love them or hate them, food is food!