Thursday, March 19, 2009

Weird, but Delicious Korean Food

The following is a list of weird food stuffs that I have eaten since I arrived here in Korea. All of these things have actual names in Korean but I'll be damned if I know them. This list is in no particular order. I'm just writing as I remember eating these things.

1. Dog soup. This stuff was epic. I mean besides that random yelping you heard at the restaurant as a new batch of soup was being prepared. Kidding, it wasn't yelping, it was more of a whine. No, in all seriousness the dog soup was great. It tasted a lot like dark turkey meat and was just delicious. However, the off hand comments about eating Old Yeller, were perhaps not in the best of taste. They did however make the meal that much more fun.

2. Live Baby Octopus. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. How could you eat live octopus? Well it's quite simple really, and actually doesn't taste that bad. Now there are two styles of live octopus. I am a fan of the live legs that are still wriggling on your plate. There is another method which involves eating the whole thing raw, ink, brains, eyes and all. That I have not tried, and I am honestly a little terrified of it. For your culinary pleasure I have included videos of each of these. YUMMY!!!!!!

3. Pigs Blood and Beef Stomach Lining and Intestine Soup. What can I say, this stuff is pretty good. Basically they take pigs blood and make into a gelatinous type mass. They then cook it in a soup with the other fun bits. It's quite yummy and spicy. What I find so interesting about this soup, is that it gives you all the benefits of eating liver. High in iron and all those fun things, but you don't have the texture and density of Liver.

4. Snails. Well, this is not the excellent French version which includes loads of butter and garlic. This was Korean style served cold. In fact I'm not entire sure I know how they made this stuff. What I do know however is that it was mixed in your standard Korean sweet and spicy sauce, green onions, leeks, and cilantro. The snails are surprisingly sweet and tasty.

5. Mountain Banana. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!!!!! This is some freakish hybrid of a Kiwi and an Banana. Now I know what you're thinking, hey that could be delish. Ohh, it's not. This thing basically tastes as if you took all the flavor of a Kiwi and threw it away. You then replace that with bitter seeds and a white tasteless mush inside. The other important thing is, that you don't want to eat the seeds apparently. I was told this after the fact. Needless to say the banana decided it didn't like me and wanted to leave my body as soon as possible. I was happy to oblige, and to this day it remains the only thing in Korea that has made me throw up.

6. Abalone. Yeah, it's pretty easy to get here, and there is none of those Abalone hunting problems here like we had in California.

7. Blood Sausage. Hey this stuff is great street food. You walk up to a vendor at 4 AM with the drunk munchies and this stuff just is what you want. Sadly most Americans think of these things as horrible. Then you talk to anyone from the Scandinavian countries and even the Northern Europeans and they're all about it. Turns out blood sausage is a delicacy there. Whuda thunk it?

8. Acorn Jelly. Hey, it was good enough for many Native American tribes to exist on. This stuff is not my favorite because it is a bland gelatinous mass. I don't like bland gelatinous masses. What makes this even worse is the fact that acorns are excellent sources of nutrition. They just are too hard to harvest and use. I feel very wasteful knowing that this jelly has some excellent stuff in it, but it tastes like nothing, and that's not cool.

9. Dried Squid. I don't really know what to say about this stuff. It basically looks like you took Dr. Zoidberg's face (picture included for those who don't watch Futurama) and dried it in the sun for weeks upon weeks. I actually like this stuff. I know it seems weird but this stuff when you dip it in the red pepper paste is pretty good and makes an excellent drinking companion food.

10. Dried Small Fishes. I don't quite know what to make of these things. Were they delicious, not really. Were they bad, not really. They were just kinda dried fish. What makes these worth noting however, is the fact that the heads were still attached to this things. It makes for a pretty gruesome sight when you're table has eaten ten of these poor small fishies. Why, you ask. Well cause you don't eat the head. You just rip it off and leave it on the table. Or if you're like me you mount them upon straws and place those straws in an empty glass. Nothing says fun like a bunch of impaled fish heads.

11. Silkworm Larva. Ohh yeah, these things are sold all over Korea. Honestly they weren't that bad. They use these to flavor noodles and dumplings. They also use them as a handy portable snack. Luckily these things are not alive, they have actually been cooked. Would I recommend them to everyone, no. I blame this weird food streak upon my parents. They were the ones who always said you have to try everything at least once before you say you don't like it. Well now that training is backfiring on me. Thanks Mom and Dad.

12. Octopus Ink Soup/Pasta. This is a combo because of the concept of octopus ink. You can combine these two. The soup I have to say is far more interesting then the pasta. The way the tend to do this is first they cook the octopus whole. Besides octopus this soup has shrimp, mussels, and clams. It's delicious. Well after cooking this soup, a nice Korean lady walks by with scissors and proceeds to cut apart the octopus. Does she stop when she hits the legs? No. Upward she cuts, and then she cuts open the ink sacs. Into the soup all the ink goes, and what was a delightfully light soup turns into a dark black murky soup. The pasta was delicious. They basically used the ink and a cream base sauce on top of Pasta.

13. Lastly for this edition, Chicken Feet. Yes, that delightful dim sum food. Yet, when the Koreans get their hands on it, they give it a good Korean twist. Imagine those chickens feet being spicy as hell and cooked with a few other things. Ohh it's some good good eating.


Joanna said...

Yeah, you are Much Much more brave than I... I am eating lunch while reading this and it almost didn't go well! Oh, yeah, the pictures didn't help either!

Will Stuchell said...

I thought about including a warning that lunch should not be consumed while reading this post. You should check out the videos when you aren't eating. It's pretty cool. If you can handle stuff wriggling as it's eaten.