Some of the meat dishes I tried here in South Korea are somewhat similar to the meat dishes in the Philippines.
One Korean beef dish that reminds me so much of our own “nilagang baka” (Filipino beef stew with clear broth) is 갈비탕 (galbitang/kalbitang).
Kalbi, in English, is short ribs. When Filipinos cook beef stew, it’s also the ribs of the cow they choose. But while in the Philippines we add Chinese chard, potato, cabbage and saba (a banana variety used primarily for cooking), with kalbitang, added are radish, enoki mushrooms dangmyeon (starch noodles) and onions. In a restaurant, I was once served kalbitang with egg. I was also told that it can also be cooked with kimchi. That I have not tried yet.
Tang means soup. Synonymous to tang is another Korean word – guk. Thus, if at the end of the name of a certain Korean dish there’s either tang or guk, expect that the meat is cooked with soup.
삼계탕 (samgyetang) for example is soupy chicken dish. It is comparable to the Filipinos’ tinolang manok (chicken stew) which is cooked with either green papaya or chayote and ginger. Samgyetang consists primarily of a whole young chicken stuffed with garlic, rice, jujube, and ginseng. If you add ginger, pepper, and either papaya (not ripe) or chayote, it will taste like the Filipino chicken dish called chicken tinola (chicken stew in ginger broth and vegetables). But while chicken tinola the chicken is chopped into small pieces, with samgyetang the young chicken is cooked whole.
While samgyetang is a popular summer stamina food, Filipinos love eating this chicken tinola during cold and rainy days. Koreans troop to samgyetang restaurants in summer, particularly during the so-called three dog days of summer (or three hottest days of summer.)
The Filipino in me make me go for samgyetang during autumn and winter. They’re perfect for the cold days and nights during those seasons.
Another Korean meat dish that has striking similarities with another famous Filipino food is 설렁탕 (seolleongtang). For kalbitang, the part of the cow used are the ribs but for this dish called ox-bone soup in English it’s the leg bones. Usually prepared with spring onions only but one time I have tried one with radish and thin wheat flour noodles. It’s similar to Philippines’ bulalo (beef marrow stew.)
What about pork dishes?
I’m familiar with two… one of which is actually my favorite. These two Korean pork dishes is not like any of the pork dishes I got accustomed to in the Philippines. They are uniquely Korean.
The first one is 감자탕 (gamjatang). It’s pork neck bones that are used to make this Korean meat dish and usually cooked with potatoes (primarily) and other vegetables. There seems to be a disagreement among Korean food experts as to what gamja in gamjatang refers to – is it the potato or meat around the pork spines bones? So, it’s not settled yet as to how should it be called in English – spicy pork bone stew or potato stew. For the meantime, forget about the name. Just enjoy the taste.
The next Korean meat dish I wish to feature in this article (and actually my favorite among the meat dishes here in South Korea) … is 뼈해장국 (ppyeo haejangguk).
Others would simply call it haejangguk, which means, according to existing literature, hang-over soup. I’m more used to calling it ppyeo haejangguk for that’s how it’s written in the menus of restaurant where I ate them. One thing that I have noticed is that it is somewhat similar to gamjatang minus the potatoes. Both are spicy but when you order you can request that it be made less spicy or not spicy at all. I was told that there is a variety of haejangguk where instead of pork spine it’s ox-bone that is used.
Of all the meat dishes I tried here in South Korea, ppyeo haejangguk is my favorite. It doesn’t mean though that I need to eat it often because of hang-over. I just love the taste and the spiciness of this meat dish. The price ranges from 5,000 KRW to 7,000 KRW.
Two other meat dishes I came to like here are the following: 제육덮밥- jeyuk deopbap and 족발 (jok-bal).
There are more meat dishes here in South Korea but the five I presented here are the top 5 in my list. It is very possible that after my 5 years being here I may have not tried some them yet.
I wrote an article in Filipino about Korean meat dishes in order for my friends in the Philippines to know the different ways Koreans cook meat. This is the English version of the said article. The beef, pork and chicken dishes I mentioned in that write-up were limited to the ones that I already tried. I focused mainly on what I literally saw on the bowls and plates when I ate them… like what kind of meat were they, which parts of the cow, chicken or pig were used, and what vegetables and other ingredients were mixed. I added some personal observations.
— o —
There is a strong possibility that when we visit a country as tourists or stay there for a long time to work, we might experience culture shock. It happened to me here in South Korea. But mine is a culture shock unlike any other. It was like I was shocked, not to my dismay, but to my delight.
Which part of Korean culture did that?
It’s their FOOD!
That’s right! It’s the food. When I had my initial encounters with this element of Korean culture, I was shockingly delighted. I loved it.
I couldn’t find the right word to describe the experience. So, pardon me for coining a new word – KIMCHITIZE.
Am I the first one to use this word? (Please tell me if not.)
Anyway, KIMCHITIZE is a verb. It means “to cause a foreigner to like (or fall in love with) Korean dishes/foods.”
For the purpose of this essay, I need the past participle form of the verb – KIMCHITIZED.
The first Korean food that landed on my tongue was Korea’s fabled kimchi and the first Korean dish that traveled the full length of my digestive tract was kimchi-jjigae.
It was love at first bite. I was readily kimchitized!
It’s not much with the newness to me of the Korean cuisine. I have actually read a lot of literature about Korean dishes before. Even the Korean dramas we Filipinos are fond of watching in the Philippine give us a glimpse of what South Koreans cook and eat. What I consider, if I may say it again – “shockingly delighting” – are some things that I consider peculiar about the food part of Korean culture.
The first one I consider unusual are the side dishes (반찬 – banchan). No! Not the side dishes per se but the amount. Look at the photos and you’ll see what I mean. That’s a plethora of side items. The main dish is drowned in a sea of side dishes. It’s too many that you can easily say goodbye to weight loss once you see them scattered on a table. So inviting. It’s so hard not to pick one with your chopsticks, spoon or – fingers. You would promise “just this one” until that one becomes two – then three – then more.
The first time I experienced that shocking delight of having lots of side dishes was when for the first time I tried 삼겹살 (samgyeobsal). Aside from the leaves, there were plenty of side dishes like steamed eggplant, soybean sprouts, cucumber salad, and some more I could no longer recall.
Shockingly delighting also, for me, is the Koreans’ romance with green leaves. They love wrapping their meat with leaves, particularly lettuce and perilla. I got accustomed to just dipping grilled meat into a plate of salt or a bowl of soy sauce and vinegar combined then they’re ready to be eaten. For the Koreans, it’s different. They will get a leaf, spread it flatly on their palm then carefully pile there meat, grilled garlic, and a side dish or two. Then they carefully roll it making sure that it’s securely wrapped before stuffing it into their mouths.
It surprised me also to see how my Korean friends would ordinarily munch green pepper and garlic as if it’s just another kind of fruit or vegetable. I am okay with the garlic, though I had to grill it first. I bravely tried the green pepper once my bravery was gone in just a few seconds. My friends laughed at how I perspired and my face turned so red that time. Since then I avoided it like a plague and would politely say no whenever offered.
They say that there are four phases of culture shock namely, honeymoon, frustration, adjustment and acceptance. In my case, it started with honeymoon and jumped right away to the final phase of acceptance. There were no frustrations at all. But wait! I remember that I passed through the adjustment period anyway.
And here’s what I did in the adjustment period – I needed to punch another hole on my belt because with all the mouth-watering Korean dishes/foods out there waiting to be discovered losing weight is going to be a mighty struggle.
Below is a link to the articles about some of the Korean dishes/foods I have been enjoying here in South Korea.
When suddenly my hunger BOILS up…
뼈해장국 – Ppyeo Haejangguk
Source: “Boils Up”