The best bagels I've found in Seoul were at Dunkin' Donuts and Costco. It was amazing because they tasted just like the bagels that sit in a bag on the grocery store shelf back home. And with enough cream cheese, they taste alright.
So instead of whining about the lack of good bagels in Korea, I made some. Chewy and a just a tad crunchy on the outside; soft, moist, and flavorful on the inside. These bagels are amazing fresh out of the oven with some butter. And when they're toasted with some homemade cream cheese? OMFG.
I used a recipe The Sophisticated Gourmet pretty exactly:
2 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet of yeast which is about 8 grams)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (±1/4 cup)
3 1/2 cup bread flour (Well-Being Mart in Gyeongnidan)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Optional Toppings: poppy seeds (got mine for 1,500 won at the Foreign Food Mart), minced garlic (be careful it doesn't burn), sesame seeds, course sea salt, and minced onion.
In 1/2 cup of warm water, pour in the yeast and sugar. Do not stir. Just let it sit for five minutes so the yeast can activate and feed itself. Then stir the mixture until the yeast and sugar all dissolve.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and mix in the yeast and sugar mixture. Pour half the remaining water into the bowl (about 1/2 cup) and start mixing the dough together. Add the rest of the water as needed to get the dough to a firm, moist consistency.
On a floured surface or in the bowl if it's big enough, knead the dough for about ten minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try to incorporate as much flour as you can to get a nice, stiff dough.
Rub a large bowl with oil and turn the dough ball in it to coat. Cover with a towel, and let it rest and rise to double its size, which should take about an hour.
When the dough's inflated to double its size, deflate it by punching it down.
The original recipe says to divide the dough into eight pieces. I used a dough scraper thingy to divvy mine up. I got this at the baking market in Bangsan Market for 600 won, and it has quickly earned its spot as one of the most efficient kitchen tools I own.
Roll each dough piece into a ball and poke a hole in the middle to about a third the size of the bagel because the bagel will grow bigger and the hole will shrink. I used a chopstick to poke holes cause this is what making bagels in Korea is all about.
Place the bagels onto lightly oiled baking sheets. I wrapped the baking sheets/trays in foil because I didn't want to wash dishes. I'm all about making forging a lazy route to making these work-intensive halos of doughy carbs.
Cover them with a damp towel and let them rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and get your big pot of water boiling. Once the water has reached a good, rolling boil, reduce the heat, and start plopping in your bagels. I did 3-4 at a time. You want to leave enough space so that you can flip the bagels without denting or squashing them.
After a few seconds of being in the boiling water, the bagels will float to the top. Wait 1 minute and flip them. Wait another minute (2 minutes if you want chewier bagels) and take them out with a wire skimmer.
If you're topping your bagels, now's the time to do it. If you're making an "everything bagel" or using poppy seeds, you need to use an egg wash or the toppings won't stick.
Once the bagels are done boiling and being topped if you're doing that, put them on a greased cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack or eat them hot and buttered with the voracity of a baby velocirapor. (Um, me.)