Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Barbequed Streaky Pork Belly

Why has nobody told me about Samgyeopsal (삼겹살 ) before?? I've been here two months and I had it for the first time last week when I went out for dinner with a friend.  It's basically barbequed streaky pork belly but my god is it delicious!  Koreans are pretty big into their barbeques.  Nearly every second restaurant here has grills in-built into the tables.

The meat arrives and you lob it onto your grill with a set of tongs.  You're given a scissors (Koreans dont really use knives at the table) as-well, so once the meat has cooked a bit on each side you chop it up into bite sized pieces.  Then all the banchan arrive.  Banchan are side-dishes, and no Korean meal ever comes without them.  They vary hugely from place to place, and often from dish to dish, but you always get at least Kimchi and some sort of pickled radish.

We got loads of tasty banchan with the Samgyeopsal the other night.  Garlic cloves, onions and big pieces of Kimchi, all of which you through on the grill too, some shredded spring onions and bean sprouts and a few sauces.  You also get lettuce leaves and seasame leaves, the idea being that you use them as wrappers.  Pop a bit of everything into the leaf and make a little parcel.  Then lob it all into your mouth, mmmm!

It was so tasty that I dragged Nick to a BBQ joint on our street on Sunday for more!  We've been a bit wary of eating barbeque here because when we got to Seoul initially, we ended up with barbequed pig's intestine one evening, which wasn't fantastic.  Also, we were sick of smelling of our food for hours after we'd eaten.  Anyway, I promised him it was real tasty and marched him in the door!

It seemed to be a slightly more upmarket place than I'd eaten in during the week.  The barbeque was coal fired, not gas, and the prices were that little bit higher.  The banchan were also better, another tell tale sign of a slightly better place.  We got a big bowl of soup (the black pot in the photo in front of Nicks right arm) and an omlette (in the other black bowl, behind Nick's hand!).  Other than that the banchan were all the same, and just as tasty second time round.

Just as we were getting stuck into cooking our pork, the lady that owns the little corner shop beside our apartment came in with her son, who was about to head off to do his army service.  They sat down at the table next to us, ordered some barbeque and a bottle of soju 소주 (a very common local vodka type drink, drunk straight, in small shot glasses) and bought us the coke you can see in the photo!

If you run out of anything, bar the meat, you just ring the little bell on your table and ask for more at no extra cost.  We didn't need to ring the bell, but we didn't exactly leave much behind us either!!    

 And all this, plus a big beer each, for only 26,000won or about 18euro!

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