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Raw… Horse… Meat!

My apologies to Andrew Zimmern and the crew of Bizarre Foods.  I had no idea this existed until this week.

I called my friend Soo-jung to tell her the Bizarre Foods episode was coming out.  She’s the one who introduced me to fermented skate and subsequently ate it with Andrew on the show.  She told me we should meet up this Friday with her golf buddies.

“You ever have horse meat?”

I met her friends at a little second floor restaurant in a building I regularly go to for buying ESL books.  Never noticed it before.

When I sat down, her friends were already eating some pork.  Yet a plate of Mr. Ed was also sitting out, ready for grilling.  Now, if I didn’t tell you it was horse meat, you’d drool.  Look at it.

HorseMeat1 Raw... Horse... Meat!

Deep red.  Lean.  Full of iron.

3472484554 24aa2d9c01 Raw... Horse... Meat!

When grilled, I dipped it in a little vinegared pepper sauce.

The taste?

I was expecting something gamey, like lamb.  But it was like a straightforward beef.  I was struck by how tender it was.  I didn’t ask what part of the horse it came from, but my guess is the tenderloin.  Strong red meat flavor.  But I had to be more certain.  There’s only one way to find out.

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Mmm… horse sashimi!

Look how little fat is there!  It tasted like the reddest tuna and was almost as soft.  Not much chewing going on there.

Yet being as clever as Koreans are, I couldn’t resist the horse meat being transformed into one of the greatest dishes of Korean cuisine…

3472481524 c81c86bbf8 Raw... Horse... Meat!

Yuk Hui 육회.

I’ve said before that Yuk Hui beats the pants off of any Parisian steak tartare.  In this case, the horse meat is sliced into ribbons and mixed with sesame oil, big chunks of raw garlic and pine nuts served on a bed of julienned Korean pear.

Fruity.  Nutty.  Garlicky.  Many layers of flavors with that rich iron beefiness.  The mouthfeel was chilly, soft and slippery with the sesame oil.  It was so slippery that it was hard to chew without it just sliding down my throat.

I ate so much of this, that Soo-jung’s golf friends just put the plate in front of me to finish.

Then came another great surprise.

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Samgyeopsal 삼겹살.

But Joe, that’s not anything special.

Yes, but this is Ddong Dwaeji Samgyeopsal 똥 돼지 삼겹살, the famous “poo pig.”

I was disappointed–okay, relieved–to again confirm that none of these pigs fed off of human feces, like the name implies.  It’s more of a name given to the black pigs of Jeju Island.

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The owner had sat down with us and told me that there is such great competition amongst Jeju pig farmers that they really take care of their pigs.  They’re free range and live like pigs are supposed to live.  Happy pigs.

3471677645 a4e8f581ef Raw... Horse... Meat!

See that?  That’s a happy pig.

Sweet, sweet pork.  Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet pork.  The juices from the fat explode flavor all over the mouth.  Americans have no idea what real pork should taste like–well, ones that depend on the bland pork from the local megamarket.

So, Friday night’s dinner was Jeju Halla Pork.

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And happy Jeju horse.

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Heh, didn’t know horses had fingers.

Update:

I went back to the building and found out the name.   Look in the comments for directions.  Or rather, go out exit one.  Pass NC Department Store.  Cross the street and cross left, in effect, going diagonally.  Look for a Family Mart.  It’s on the second floor of that building with this sign.

3619272175 32d1385c82 Raw... Horse... Meat!

ZenKimchi

Author: ZenKimchi

Joe McPherson founded ZenKimchi in 2004. He has been featured and sourced in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN, KBS, MBC, SBS, Le Figaro, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, Harper’s Bazaar Korea, The Chosun Weekly, and other Korean and international media. He has consulted for The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” Lonely Planet, and the PBS documentary series “Kimchi Chronicles.” Mr. McPherson has written for multiple Korean and international publications, including SEOUL Magazine, JoongAng Daily, The Korea Herald, Newsweek Korea and wrote the feature article for U.S. National publication Plate magazine’s all-Korean food issue. He has acted as dining editor for 10 Magazine and was on the judging panel for Korea for the Miele Guide. He spoke at TEDx Seoul on Korean food globalization, at TED Worldwide Talent Search on the rise of Korean cuisine, and in New York City on Korean Buddhist temple cuisine. The company ZenKimchi International organizes food tours for tourists and corporations and acts as a media liaison for foreign and Korean media and local restaurants and producers.

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  • http://zenkimchi.com/ ZenKimchi

    I can’t believe I didn’t get a pic of the sign. It’s “Mal”—something. The directions aren’t very straightforward. Lemme post a Google Earth bookmark.

  • http://www.paulajosshi.com/ Paul

    I want a portion of horse as well, it looks so delicious! I might have to make my way down to that place, or at least find something similar near me.

    Poo pig is always a delight, when I went to Jeju I had the most amazing slow cooked pork, roasted for twelve hours and falling to bits on the plate in front of me. Best pork ever…

  • http://www.yrad.com/cs/ karl

    Yeah Joe, cough it up. I’ve been dying to try horse meat. That’s one I’m going to try in June. You do have to love the image of the “buddy jesus” horse.

  • Doddie from Korea

    I am digging everything!!! Any chance you can give me the name and directions to the restaurant? :)

  • http://zenkimchi.com/ ZenKimchi

    No, it’s technically illegal and has been becoming looked down upon by the Korean public.

  • tellos

    Nice…

    Horse meat is really popular in Switzerland, more then Beef.

    I think it’s more delicious.

    It’s a little bit the korean dog meat of switzerland :D Exept more main stream I guess.

    Can you find dog meat in supermarket in Korea?

  • http://www.yrad.com/cs/ karl

    I though dog meat was technically back on the menu. It had been removed for World Cup but it was a temp ban (a bit like how bundaegi was temp banned for the 1988 olympics). I could be wrong tho. I still think lots of young children eat dog meat, probably with their grandfathers. But yeah there’s a big swath of middle aged Koreans who purdy much don’t dig on dog.

  • http://zenkimchi.com/ ZenKimchi

    I’ve had it once–as soup and steamed. It tasted a bit like dark pork. Fatty.

  • FatManSeoul

    Dog meat is in legal limbo . . . laws are still on the books, but completely and utterly unenforced. Consider it a grey area. But dog meat is not available in your standard supermarket – you’ll have to hunt it down at a handful of traditional markets if you’re looking to prepare it at home. Its much more common to go to any of the hundreds of semi-legal restaurants that specialize in it.
    But as for horse meat . . . it seems to have been much more widely spread in Jeju than other places, but while it’s not as common as other meats, it’s not unheard of either. Still, this is the first we’ve seen of horsemeat outside the isle!

  • tellos

    I haven’t tried dog meat so far, I’ve been to Korea two times, but never had the chance.

    My wife doesn’t like it. Her dad forced her to eat some when she was young. I think, because it’s supposed to make you stronger if you’re sick.

    How does it taste like? I heard it’s usually served as a soup, can you eat it grilled as well?

    There is several other things I’d like to try, like the live octopus, or wale. I really should get the bizarre food episode about Korea on i tunes!

    I don’t like Pondegi though:D

  • http://www.seouleats.com/ Seouleats

    a plate of Mr. Ed. hahaha…yum…now, where is it?

  • http://www.yrad.com/cs/ karl

    Joe did you cough up the location to this place?

    • http://zenkimchi.com/ ZenKimchi

      It’s near Beomgye Station in the same building that Kidari Bookstore is, next to the Anyang Community Center. I still don’t know the name of it as I haven’t had time to go back down there this week to get more accurate directions. They’ll be coming.

  • http://tastymealsathome.wordpress.com/ tastymealsathome

    Pretty disappointed by the Andrew zimmerson Korean episode !

    YIKES!! HOrse meat? Do you think the meat was cured or seasoned with tenderizing seasoning prior? I’m really surprised it’s as tender as you described despite being so lean. VERY interesting – Great blog and we love 삼겹살 too !

  • Christianna Lee

    Wild, man! That’s some extreme food-ing, right there.
    Good to meet up yesterday, btw. :)
    Keep on!

  • Andy

    Where is the horse restaurant? I have a guest coming to Korea and want to give it a try!

  • Joo

    So how big is this place? Big enough to accomodate, say, a group of 15?

  • http://zenkimchi.com/ ZenKimchi

    I think they could possibly handle 15, if it’s not too busy.

  • crapolaho

    Hey, this place sounds great! I tried finding this place the other day but I got completely lost (I couldn’t find an Anyang Community Center anywhere near Beomgye Station). Do you remember what exit from the station you walked out of and for how long-ish?

    • http://zenkimchi.com/ ZenKimchi

      I still haven’t had a chance to head back there and give more precise directions and a name for you. Here’s what I remember. Go to this Google Maps link:
      http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=37.390729,126.951656&spn=0.004424,0.008283&z=17

      North of Exit 1 and to the left, you see two buildings called 벨치과. It’s on the second floor of one of those buildings. You’ll know it by the picture of the horse and the pig on the sign.

  • crapolaho

    Hey again, thanks for the directions! Went to the restaurant today and it was great! Here’s how to get there for anyone else interested:

    Go out Exit 1 of Beomgye Station and turn left at the light. The restaurant is on the second floor of the third building on the right.

    I forgot to memorize the name but it is the only one with the grinning horse and pig sign at the entrance.

  • Joo

    Here is the Naver page:

    http://local.naver.com/siteview/index?code=151451438

    What the map doesn’t show you is that the main entrance is at the back of the building. It’s better to go the back (명정길 or MyeongJeong-gil) and the sign and the staircase leading up to the restaurant is right there.

    I LOVE HORSE MEAT!!!!

  • Megan Poser

    You think horse meat is nice?
    Anyone who has seen where this meat comes from and still eats it should be slaughtered like the ex racehorses you’re eating. Wanna see what they go through?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4-LELvvS9s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr2HOvjIhas

    Whoever eats horse meat is disgusting. Take a look at where it comes from!

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