Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In case you're planning a Korean party...

I've eaten some interesting foods recently. Let me tell you about them.

First, and this ranks pretty low on the list of strange or icky or what-have-you: 쭈꾸미; in English -- jjook-goomi. Even more in English, spicy baby octopus. With carrots and some other junk. Freakin delicious. I've been to this restaurant 3 times already, and I'll probably be back soon.

Next -- and this was also way better than it sounds, I have to say: 닭발; talk-bal, which literally translates to "chicken feet." I would never have thought to eat this part of the bird, myself, but I know people all over the world do it, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Again, it's spicy, served with vegetables. This one is bar-food in Korea... 안주, they call it. Anju literally means side dishes served with beer or liquor, and you can pretty much find something weird to eat at any Korean bar. I've only tried it once, when Mi Jin ordered it... but I'd eat it again. It's just really really effin' spicy... so you've kinda gotta be in one of those pump-yourself-up-for-the-pain moods.

Let's see, moving on up the ickiness scale, we come to... probably the raw beef liver. It wasn't terrible... just velvety soft and with very little flavor. Again, raw, so it's a little chewy, but only a little. It's actually got a very mushy, unresisting texture. I think, if it were very lightly sauteed, it would be quite nice.

Next stop -- 순대 (soondae) and also the soup made from it, 순대국 (soondae-guk). Bet you can't guess what 국 means... :) Anyway, I ate this dish several times during the winter camp, and had it again last week. I guess I had never really asked what was in it, or maybe I did and then promptly blocked it out. But here's the fun list of ingredients for this traditional Korean specialty -- which I would eat again. Actually, the soup isn't great. But a dish of just soondae and side-dishes is pretty heavenly, believe it or not. But it's a "blood sausage-y" mix... blood (pig's, I think, although I'm not entirely sure on that), clear noodles, and barley or other filler... wrapped in a pig intestine and steamed, and then served in a soup with other various entrails, plus onions and potatoes and such. Also, you pick the soondae out of the soup with your chopsticks and dip into a sauce made of tiny (1cm, maybe?) pickled shrimps. Whole and uncooked shrimps. It gives it a really nice salty kick. Really tasty, but definitely getting up there on my newly-formed ick scale.

And finally -- the ick winner. Mostly because it tasted like complete ass, and also looked, smelled, and felt really just vomit-inducing. I don't know what the Korean word for it is, and apparently there is no English word for it, presumably because no one who speaks English has ever wanted to eat one. They were served in a big bowl of 해물 갈국수 that I had last week. That's hae-mul kal-guk-su, or seafood noodle soup. Now, this also comes with dried fish, shrimp with the heads on, and various and sundry other fun seafoods. The fish and clams were delicious, actually, and the soup itself was pretty rockin too. But then there were these... otherworldly alien things, in the soup. Kinda spiny, kinda squishy, yet still crunchy. Like, if you tap them with a chopstick, they make a noise. Anyway, Bo Il was eating them, or at least, I think he was and not just pretending to get me to put one of the damn things in my mouth. So, after letting it cool an appropriate amount of time, I chose the smallest, least-spiny looking of the bunch and chowed down. On the outside, naturally, it tasted pretty much like the soup. Not bad... then I punctured the shell, and all kinds of unholy hell-spawn gushed forth. I mean, this thing was like 11 different kinds of awful, all rolled up into one completely repulsive crunchy-shell-covered goo. And yes, this is the only thing on this list that I definitely, certainly, without a doubt will NOT eat ever again. Even if it does get an English name.

So, to recap: octopus < chicken feet < raw beef liver < blood sausage < unnamed demon-child of the outer deeps.

Bon appetit!


Anonymous said...

Is this the same boy thay I had to melt cheese on his broccoli to get him to eat it?

emily said...

It might have been bon-dae-gi. was about the size of nickel, but shaped kind of like a football? and maybe stripped...

that was by far the most awful thing I ate in korea.