Bungeo-ppang (붕어빵; "carp bread") is a fish-shaped pastry stuffed with sweetened red bean paste. It is one of the most common winter street food in Korea. It is often sold at street stalls, grilled in an appliance similar to a waffle iron, but with fish-shaped molds. Although red bean paste is the standard filling, many bungeo-ppang that are sold as street food are filled with pastry cream (called "choux-cream" in Korea), pizza toppings, chocolate, and so on.
The word bungeo-ppang is a compound of "carp (bungeo)" and "bread (ppang)" the pastry, however, does not contain any ingredients from its namesake fish or any other fish, rather the name comes from the shape of the pastry.
Bungeo-ppang was derived from a similar Japanese dish, taiyaki (baked sea bream), introduced to Korea around 1930s during the Japanese forced occupation period. According to a 2011 book, Bungeoppang Has a Family Tree, bungeo-ppang began as the mix of Western waffles and Eastern dumplings, as the taiyaki itself was a Japanese adaptation of Western waffles introduced in Japan in the 18th century. The change of fish-shaped pastry continued, as the sea bream-shaped taiyaki became carp-shaped bungeo-ppang in Korea. Although bungeo-ppang's popularity did not last long, it found its way back into popularity during the 1990s with the retro craze in South Korea.
Bungeo-ppang batter is made up of wheat flour, baking powder, water and/or milk, and optionally eggs. The batter is poured into a fish-shaped mold in the bungeo-ppang grill, an appliance similar to a waffle iron. Sweetened red bean paste with bits of broken beans and bean husk is added, and then more batter is poured to encase the red bean paste. The mold is then closed, and the pastry is grilled until golden and crispy.
Red bean paste in bungeo-ppang
Binggrae's Melona Waffle, an ice cream based on bungeo-ppang
Bungeo-ppang served in Gardena, California