37° 33′ 59.526″ N, 126° 58′ 40.6884″ E
This week I tried samgyeopsal, or Korean barbeque, for the first time and it was delicious. Thinking about it now makes my mouth water! I want to tell you all about it! Walking through Shinchon, Seoul I often see traditional Korean restaurants sitting alongside Western style restaurants. I see a place to eat traditional Korean barbeque, or samgyeopsal (sahm-geeop-sahl), sitting next to a Korean restaurant selling burgers and fries, and then down the block I see a three story Starbuck’s coffee shop! Many restaurants in Seoul are a blending of eastern and western food that can be quite interesting. The other day I ate dokkbokki, or Korean rice cake, in a white creme sauce with bacon and broccoli. I felt like I was eating Italian pasta! I have also eaten at a number of traditional Korean restaurants and had a lot of delicious food, but I think my favorite so far is samgyeopsal.
Samgyeopsal is a very popular Korean meal that you get to make yourself right at your table! Samgyeopsal actually looks a lot like thick cuts of bacon and according to my research the name comes from sam meaning three, gyeopmeaning layer and sal meaning fat or flesh. Samgyeopsal comes from the number of layers of meat that can be seen in one slice. Isn’t that neat! I tried samgyeopsal for the first time a few nights ago and it was absolutely delicious. The waiter brings you a plate of raw pork and then you get to cook it on the grill at your table! Not only is it tasty, it can also be inexpensive. My dinner only cost me 4,700 Won!
Samgeopsal is delicious. It reminds me a little of bacon, but since it’s thicker it reminds me more of barbequed pork. It was also a lot of fun to cook it myself since I could decide what other ingredients I wanted to cook with it, how spicy I wanted it to be and how I wanted to eat it. This dish isn’t just delicious it’s also fun!
Samgyeopsal comes to the table as long strips of raw meat. The waiter also brings you scissors and tongs. You hold the meat with the tongs so that you can cut it into smaller strips to put on the grill in the middle of your table. The waiter turns the grill on and pulls down a long metal tube that works as a chimney for the fire underneath the grill. You also get bowls of banchan or side-dishes, like kimchi, and tofu soup. There are also other ingredients to add to the grilling meat like onions flavored with wasabi, and cloves of garlic. There are leaves of lettuce on the side to wrap your grilled meat in when it’s done.
As the meat was cooking I could see the fat dripping off onto the grill and I knew it was going to be tasty! The meat went from pink to crispy brown and I knew it was time to eat. I took a small piece of meat and placed it on the lettuce, added a piece of grilled garlic, crispy grilled onions, and a drop of samjang, which is a dipping paste made with chili paste, soybean paste, and sesame oil. Once I had everything on the lettuce I wrapped it up and ate it in one bite! All the flavors blended together to make a really delicious meal!