I came across an article on a small outbreak of e. coli bacteria in Japan. It mentioned in the summary that it came from a barbecue chain. That hit the bells in my head, and I looked more closely. The e. coli’s source was YukHui (pronounced Yook-hway–Korean steak tartare) at a Korean barbecue chain.

Fingers are pointing around. The food ministry is taking some hits for not enforcing its policy on inspecting raw beef. The restaurant chain is under fire for not checking their beef for contamination in two years. And the distributor who supplied the beef is really getting the–um, beef. I’m sure they’ll point their fingers at someone else.

This is something that I’ve been afraid would happen in Korea, too. The populace had been so consumed with mad cow madness that they ignored the very real problem of e. coli. I’ve never heard anyone talk about it on the peninsula.

I’m a big fan of YukHui, and there are actually YukHui pubs here. But I usually prefer to eat it at a butcher restaurant, where they handle the meat from full sides of beef to the dish. The contamination tends to occur in places where there is mass processing and little personal touch or care. So be careful when eating YukHui in a place that doesn’t specialize in it.

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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 "Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain," The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, the PBS documentary series “Kimchi Chronicles,” and other projects in the UK, Canada, and Australia featuring celebrity chefs such as Gizzi Erskine and Gary Mehigan. 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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