Korean street food vendors often sell the salty-sweet egg sandwich Gilgeori toast, which means “street toast” in Korean. Many people who grew up there remember it as a childhood snack. Quick, easy, and adaptable, this meal can be eaten for breakfast or lunch. When I’m in Seoul, I enjoy this street food as often as I can with my morning coffee.
The menus of street vendors and fast food joints vary endlessly. If you don’t have cabbage, you can use any other vegetable that would provide crunch and flavor, such as scallions chopped finely or zucchini julienned. Make your sandwich special by replacing the sugar with jam, adding your favorite condiments, or adding other sandwich fixings. The addition or offering of ham and/or cheese is common.
Korean Street Toast History
Famous Halmeoni Toast (Grandma Toast)
There are many choices out there, but my favorite is Halmeoni Toast in the Changdong neighborhood of Seoul for its veggie-packed egg toast. In Korean, Halmeoni means grandmother. In a TV program, I saw several years ago, there was an 84-year-old woman who had been doing gilgeori toasts every day for more than 20 years. She still ran the business because she wanted to be active and social. I find that so inspiring!
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In 2018, she was known for selling street toasts that were large and filled with vegetables for just 2,000 won (less than $2) each. Her veggie omelet would be topped with a heaping teaspoon of sugar, ketchup, and salt.
Sadly, Halmeoni died in February 2021, and her street cart was eventually shut down when the local government obtained a court order. After many years of helping her aging mother-in-law with the business, her Vietnamese daughter-in-law reopened it at a different location in the same neighborhood. We are delighted to see Halmeoni Toast’s legacy continuing in the hands of her daughter-in-law. I look forward to visiting the place when I return to Korea.
Korean Street Toast Ingredients
White bread slices are typically toasted in a pan with margarine to make gilgeori toasts. Alternatively, you can use Asian milk bread, whole wheat bread, or multigrain bread. For instance, I usually purchase Korean milk bread from the local Korean bakery.
Combined with lots of vegetables, one egg is used per sandwich in Halmeoni Toast. It’s entirely up to you how many eggs you want in each sandwich, but from my experience, if you like Halmeoni toast, then take it up to 1.5 eggs (3 for 2 sandwiches) to 2 eggs next time.
Margarine or butter
Korean street vendors commonly cook and toast bread with margarine. However, butter can be used in its place. Using olive oil is healthy if you prefer, but if you’re trying it for the first time, I recommend margarine or butter.
Onion, carrot, green cabbage, onion, and buchu (garlic chives) make up the vegetables in Halmeoni Toast. Green cabbage makes up the bulk of the dish. Use a scallion instead of garlic chives if you don’t have any. Use about 4 to 5 ounces of sliced veggies (1 cup packed) per sandwich to make it as big as hers.
What Is Korean Street Toast?
A Korean breakfast sandwich known as Gilgeori toast consists of buttered toast stuffed with shredded cabbage, carrots, and green onions cooked together in egg batter and topped with ham and cheese.
Korea’s breakfast-on-the-go is popular street food, available mainly from Korean street vendors or franchise toast shops (Issac Toast). Koreans eat this on their way to work or at the bus stop during the week – a common scene on a Korean street on a weekday morning.
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How To Eat Korean Street Toast?
Korea’s street vendors usually stick their toast in a paper cup and wrap it in foil to hold it in shape. If you don’t want to wrap it, you can simply eat it as a sandwich. You can also wrap your sandwich in parchment paper as you would when packing it for lunch.
You will want to devour these buttery Korean toasts as soon as they are hot to take advantage of all their goodness.
- 2 Large eggs
- 1 tbsp Ketchup
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp White sugar
- 1 tbsp Mayonnaise
- 1 Stalk green onion
- 3 tbsp Salted butter
- ⅓ cup Julienned carrot
- 1 pinch Cayenne pepper
- 2 Thick slices white bread
- 2 Thin slices smoked ham
- ¼ tsp Ground black pepper
- 1 Slice Mild Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Thinly sliced green cabbage
- Add carrots, cabbage, green onions, salt, black pepper, and cayenne to a bowl.
- Gently mix with your hands to soften and season. Gently mix with your fork to fully incorporate the eggs.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet. Toss the bread slices in the butter to ensure both sides are covered.
- Toast the bread until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Remove the bread from the pan.
- The remaining butter should be heated over medium heat in the same skillet. Using a spatula, chop down on the surface and push over the edges while simultaneously mixing the cabbage mixture.
- Start forming a rectangle that is twice as long as it is wide as soon as the mixture is starting to hold its shape. Continue to cook the rectangle until golden brown on both sides; flip it over and cook it on the opposite side for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Transfer the stacked cabbage pieces to the toast and put them on top. Spread the sugar over the top.
- Place ham in the same skillet and cook until it sizzles. Place ham in the skillet and top with cheese. Fry for about a minute until cheese is melted.
- The ham should be placed on a sandwich and mayonnaise and ketchup should be added. Finish by topping with the remaining piece of toast and cutting in half.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 937.5Total Fat: 69.6gSaturated Fat: 33.9gCholesterol: 514.8mgSodium: 2594.5mgCarbohydrates: 49.9gFiber: 5.9gSugar: 14.5gProtein: 31.6g