▲ The Mandarin Steamed Bread bakery offers a Jeju-inspired treat. Photo by Jessica Sicard
The Mandarin Steamed Bread bakery is just a stone’s throw from the entrance of Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, ideally located for locals and travelers seeking a delicious treat while taking in one of Jeju’s greatest attractions. Welcoming customers with a big smile is Bak Byeong In, bakery owner and mastermind behind a unique type of bread. If Bak’s charming demeanor does not lift your spirits, the vibrant color scheme and mouth-watering aroma of steamed bread will.
Bak’s bakery showcases a type of traditional Korean steamed bread called jjinppang (찐빵), but Bak has added a special ingredient: Jeju mandarin oranges. This adds an explosion of citrus-flavored sweet goodness to an already delectable Korean treat, and those with a sweet tooth like me cannot help but to contemplate a second helping. Or a third. Or a fourth.
Two types of bread are available at Mandarin Steamed Bread. The first type is called jam jjinppang (four for 3,000 won), a long piece of steamed citrus bread with mandarin jam inside. The second type of bread is called pat jjinppang (four for 3,000 won), a round, citrus bread with sweet red beans and mandarin jam. Both will make your taste buds dance and top off the relaxing island atmosphere. Fresh bread is available from 11 a.m.
Jeju Island is famous for mandarin oranges, making them an economically wise choice as a special ingredient. The mandarins used for the bread are locally grown by Bak’s brother-in-law, Kim Sung Gyu, a mandarin farmer in the small town of Gangjeong. When Bak receives the mandarins, he peels, boils and mashes them. It is necessary to boil the oranges because it simplifies the bread fermentation process. The mashed mandarins and mandarin peels are then mixed with the bread dough.
Fermentation takes 30 minutes at 30 °C in a special fermentation chamber, and then the bread is steamed in a large pot for 10 minutes. The peeling, boiling, and mashing process is repeated to make jam, but white sugar is also added. When Bak has time, he also makes mandarin cookies.
▲ Bak Byeong In, at work. Photo by Jessica Sicard
Bak’s journey in creating this special bread began long ago. A Seoul native, Bak escaped his parents’ pressure to marry by moving to Jeju City in 1987. At the time, Koreans were expected to be married by age 30, and Bak was 31. Bak took a job at a bakery in Jeju City where he worked on refining his craft while falling in love with Jeju Island. Two years later he fell in love with Kim Bok Sun, now his wife.
In 2000, Bak and Kim relocated to Seogwipo to be closer to Kim’s family. In January 2007, Bak opened his own bakery and sought an edge over competing bakeries. He piloted his steamed mandarin bread. After tinkering with his recipe for a year, he finalized the formula for his delicious bread and to date is the only known maker of steamed mandarin bread in Korea. When asked about his favorite part of his job, Bak gets the greatest pleasure out of seeing people enjoy his food. Regular customers also make him happy.
Locals and tourists alike have visited Mandarin Steamed Bread, learning about its deliciousness primarily through friends and blogs. Bak has served international customers from China, Japan and several Western countries as well as local Koreans and those visiting from the mainland. His bread has generated so much adoration that he regularly ships his steamed mandarin bread to individuals throughout South Korea.
So what is sweet, scrumptious, and orange all over? Steamed mandarin bread that one should definitely sample if in Seogwipo.
Mandarin Steamed Bread 2-3 Namseongjung-ro, Seogwipo City Phone: 064-733-2900 Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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The Mandarin Steamed Bread bakery offers a Jeju-inspired treat. Photo by Jessica Sicard
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