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    Korean Life | Eating My First (and Last) Silk Worm Pupae (번데기)

    This might sound strange, but one of the top foods I wanted to try since moving to Korea was beondegi (번데기) or silk worm pupae.  It’s a common snack sold by traditional Korean food stall vendors that we see every time we attend a street fair or festival. The worms are cooked in a large metal vat and served by the heaping spoonful into a quart-sized paper bowl, the distinct earthy smell noticeable from all the way down the street. I wanted to try the worms not for any Fear Factor sort of reasons, but simply out of curiosity, because maybe there was a reason that these food stalls could be found everywhere in Korea. Maybe it was really tasty? Maybe I was missing out on something? Maybe they would turn out to be the most delicious thing I have ever eaten? The problem was that I only wanted to taste ONE silk worm, but could never bring myself to buy — and eat — an entire gloopy bucket of it.

    While my sister was in town, we ate at a restaurant where one of the sides (banchan) was a shallow bowl of silk worms.  It’s not a normal side dish to serve in Korean restaurants so my eyes immediately zoomed in on the bowl of worms sitting on another table just before we sat down for dinner.  I wasn’t really in the mood for worms and told Sly to tell the waiter that we would not be eating worms tonight. I got up to use the restroom and when I returned there was a bowl of worms on the table. I suppose this was what is known as “fate.”

    It was now or never.

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