Korean Food Story
- Shabnam(이슬) / 2014.12.05
Korean fried chicken
Nutritious and delicious: Korean fried chicken. Image by Phillip Tang / Lonely Planet
Yes, Korean-style fried chicken (yangnyeom tongdak) is a fusion food, the origins of which go back to when American soldiers met Korean tastes during the Korean War. But what a fusion, with tender, smaller chicken pieces drizzled with finger-licking spices. Or chicken that can go to town in spicy honey sauces, sesame seeds, garlic, peanuts and chilli flakes. The chilli-shy can try it with a straight up crunchy coating under a nest of grease-cutting spring onion threads. Something about combining Korean chicken with beer (mekju) is so right, with the beer and a side of pickles cleaning the palate for more. No wonder this combo, known as chimek (chicken + mekju), is popular in bars and casual chimek diners, but you’ll also find Korean chicken at street stalls. The small boneless bite-sized pieces are still double fried, Korean style, giving them that distinctive crackle. A small box is a great way to satisfy a craving or try parmesan flavour for maximum fusion.
Chicken Feet – Dalkbal (닭발)
Korea does chicken really well, but this chicken dish probably won’t be seen on the cooking network in the near future. Why is dalkbal a Korean food for the brave? Well, dalkbal is a whole chicken foot, bones and all. Once it’s in your mouth, scrape off the little bit of meat that is on the bone with your teeth. If the talon scraping doesn’t scare you, there’s another reason you should be afraid. Dalkbal is known to be one of the spiciest dishes in Korea. The combination of a chicken foot in your mouth and mind numbing spiciness requires a certain level of bravery for even the most experienced Korean food connoisseurs.
Live Octopus – Sannakji (산낙지)
Raw octopus is a Korean delicacy that doesn’t seem too scary. It’s kind of like sushi, right? How about if it’s still alive? One variation of sannakji is to take a live octopus or squid and slice it up. Although it’s technically dead, the tentacles are still squirming, making it appear to be alive. Once you put it in your mouth, you can feel the suction cups grasping onto your teeth and tongue. The other variation of this dish is to take a baby octopus whole, no slicing and killing, and put straight into your mouth. Nothing else. It’s that simple. Eating a live octopus in Korea is probably the pinnacle of Korean food for the brave.
Fermented Skate – Hongeo (홍어)
This is another seafood that will challenge even the most extreme of eaters. If you ever come across Hongeo, you will know instantly. The extremely pungent odor, which many liken to the stink of ammonia, makes this one of Korea’s true delicacies. The smell is so strong and off putting that you will have a hard time even finding a restaurant that serves this dish. Many Koreans that have had the courage to tryHongeo vow never to eat it again, the smell is that strong. Hold your nose, shove it in mouth, and pray that you don’t have a gag reflex…. if you’re brave enough to try this Korean delicacy that is!
Do you know any other Korean foods that require a bit of courage? Share with us in the comment section.