I die over the sweets in Seoul. It was a little too easy to find vegan, gluten free treats all around. From rice milk ice cream to mochi covered strawberries to sweet sticky rice - the unique desserts of Seoul were so delicious. I never felt sick or uncomfortable from any of the food here either. Nothing was too sweet like most desserts in the U.S. either. I drool over these!
1. Mochi-Adzuki Bean Covered Strawberries
It was strawberry season when we visited Seoul in March and the berries were so sweet and SO delicious. Not to mention the cutest things I've ever seen. I gobbled these mochi covered strawberries a couple times a day admittedly. The strawberry is coated in an adzuki bean paste (not chocolate to my surprise) then followed by a soft mochi layer made from rice. The outside layers were not too sweet - most of the sweetness came from the strawberry itself. Having said that, I don't speak Korean so couldn't read the ingredients and don't know what is in there exactly. So try and keep these to a somewhat minimum if possible! Also combining berries with rice and beans is not the easiest to digest so treasure these little berries if you can (I couldn't - to be honest). I did notice that all the desserts I tried in Korea were not very sweet like in the U.S. and I felt ok after them in small amounts.
2. Dragon Beard Candy
This puffy pillow is made from fermented honey and corn flour. A hard block of honey is taken and mixed into the corn flour then stretched over and over creating sweet, thin strands. The process is really cool to watch it looks like silky strands getting thinner and thinner until the weave is stretched enough to create these yummy little pillow.
The coating is then used to cover a small blend of sesame seeds and other yummy nuts. One small block of honey makes a ton of of these pillows so they are not too sweet. I cannot speak for the corn flour and if it is GMO or not but it does look suspiciously white so keep that in mind. 1 or 2 of these little guys is all you need!
3. Sobok Ice Cream
This beautiful ice cream shop is 100% vegan and made from brown rice milk. The soft serve ice cream is sweetened with brown rice syrup and topped with an "ice flake ball" and candied sweet potato complete with a daisy garnish. Just perfection! I am still dreaming of this decadent guilt-free treat.
Sobok "Ice flakes" are icey balls of the brown rice based ice cream coated in a peanut butter dust. Peanut butter I typically avoid due to it's contamination of the mold - aflatoxin - but in small amounts like this I say whatever.
4. Sticky Rice
Sticky rice is all over Asia. Rice is pounded and mashed to get a gummy consistency so that it sticks together. Some places add sugar where other simply pour coconut milk over it or top with fruit. In Korea, the sticky rice is shaped into a log and dried out so it can be packaged. Like all the other desserts, it is not incredibly sweet. Just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth! Eat in moderation as white rice is not ideal.
5. Adzuki Bean Gruel
This sounds weird to some but is so deliciously warming when it is cold out in Seoul. The gruel is like a thick porridge/soup made from adzuki beans. It is lightly sweetened just enough to be a dessert but not overly sweet like most desserts. Adzuki beans are actually commonly used in desserts for pastes, toppings, porridges, and even brownies. They are an absolute super food loaded with minerals, nearly all the B vitamins, iron, and fiber. These beans are one of the single best things you can eat!