Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Intestines are Yummy. Really.

Every country has its own official “quirky” food: France has its escargots and frog legs, China has its monkey brains . . . and Korea has its cow intestines. But before you start thinking that Korea is a little too weird for your taste, you should know that there are a lot of countries that frequently use different types of tripe in their cooking--all disguised behind mysterious names we can’t pronounce. Just to name a few: the Spanish Callos dish, the Hungarian Pakal, the Japanese Yakiniku, and even the American Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup.

So why even consider using animal organs in something that’s going in our mouths?

Because it tastes good. No, really, it does. It also feels good. The chewiness of the intestine allows one to savor the sauce slowly oozing out with each bite, which is what makes any intestinal dish heavenly, in my opinion. Of course, the same chewiness is what makes intestines a deal-breaker for some people, but those are the boring people who like the conventional stuff. I assume YOU are up for some adventure if you’re still reading this.

Once the intestines are meticulously cleaned (and it needs to be, for obvious reasons), it is perfectly edible by humans. Getting it cleaned, however, is no easy feat, which is why people rarely prepare this dish at home. One tip for those who do want to give it a shot: rub the intestine layers in flour so that the odor goes away, or else you might not want to go through with your little adventure.

Korean restaurants offer quite a variety of animal tripe dishes that appeal to the general population, two of which I will mention now.

The most popular is the soon-dae: quite literally, a type of Korean sausage that wraps up a mix of vegetables and noodles or sticky rice into a flattened layer of pig intestines. It is most popular among students who have little time and money on their hands but of course, adults love this dish just as much. Soon-dae can be eaten with a salty dipping sauce, cooked in a noodle broth, or stir-fried with vegetables and spicy sauce.

soon-dae, Korean intestine sausage

stir-fried soon-dae

The second is gob-chang: small intestines of either pig or cow. Most restaurants that serve this dish serve dae-chang--large intestines--as well. I personally find it most satisfying when the intestine is served chopped to bite-size pieces seasoned with salt and pepper or a spicy sauce, which we would then personally broil on a pan in front of us and eat as soon as they are ready. For an extra burst of flavor, you can dip the pieces into a spicy or garlic sauce.

broiled gob-chang, Korean small intestine

Another popular choice is the gob-chang jun-gol, which mixes the intestine pieces with vegetables in a spicy (or not spicy, depending on your preferences) casserole.

gob-chang jun-gol, Korean intestine casserole

It isn’t exactly the healthiest food in the world, but it’s a treat worth savoring every once in a while. I myself make it a habit of eating all the different variations of intestinal dishes available every time I go back to Korea for vacation. And if you ever decide to visit Korea, even for reasons other than the intestines, don’t be afraid to try them out because they’re totally worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...