Sunday, April 08, 2007

Meat in Korea

Meat is priceless in Seoul. You would be lucky if you find some in your bowl!

I learnt it the painful way after going to a Chinese restaurant near my house for a casual dinner last year. It was my third time there. The last 2 times I got noodle soups less than 6-8 usd each. The seafood noodle soup(Jampong) had plenty of toppings; however, the chicken noodle soup had basically noodle and broth only.

That rainy evening in winter, I craved so badly for big chunky meat. I could eat a cow! So I told myself to splurge and I ordered the cheapest meat dish I can see in the Chinese menu. That was Stir fried Beef with vegetable at a price of 22,000(22 usd). All right!

When the waiter brought a plate of,what seems like to me, stir-fried noodles with shredded veggies. I explained to him in a mixture of very broken one-word Korean, some body language and English, that this wasn't the dish I ordered.

To my dismay, he insisted that it was what I ordered. To prove that he was wrong, I picked up my chopsticks and raked the noodles in search for beef. With no evidence of chunky beef in the dish at all, I smiled at him and asked him, " Solgogi, Odi-yo?", which translated into "Beef, where is it?

He took my pair of chopsticks and picked up a few strands of something which I realised was beef. My jaws dropped to the ground immediately, too numbed to response.

From then onward, I would go straight to the supermarket to get meat whenever I have meat cravings. Indeed there is some meat in regular meals in food courts or restaurants - they are very thinly sliced meat, very minced meat(as in meat dumplings), processed meat(Spam, ham, hotdogs) and canned tuna.

In response to this incident, I would like to share with everyone my interpretation of Ginger Beef Stir-fry, remade in my kitchen.

Icecat's Ginger Beef Stir-fry


kEV said...

Unbelievable!!! Why meat is so expensive in KOrea? Is it because of the relatively protected beef market? Here is HK it's reasonably priced. Let me show you later my home-made version of beef udon at my blog!

IceCatSeoul said...

Hehe...Korean beef is very expensive in Seoul. There is Australian beef here which is cheaper. But I still don't understand why eating beef outside is so expensive.
Korean rice and beef markets are rather protected and there is a quotas and high tariff on imports. Foreign tea and coffee is also on the same high import tax list.

I will check your beef udon later today. But I'm trying to stay on a more vegetarian diet these days. I am a little worried about how your beef udon is going to affect my diet.