Friday, 7 October 2011

Savouring Samgyeopsal

A superfriend and colleague, L just got her Schengen visa approved in time for her European tour this coming yuletide season, so we pestered her for a celebratory treat.

Which is how we found ourselves at our favorite Korean Barbeque place for dinner on a Wednesday night. :-)

SamGyeopSal literally means three layered flesh, which describes the interlayer of fat and lean meat in a good slice of samgyeopsal.

There is nothing more comforting, more uncomplicated to eat than Samgyeopsal. It’s a literal grill your own feast.

We order our favorite cut of meat ~ not really samgyeopsal (which is pork), but marinated beef (almost like bulgogi but from the cheaper cuts of beef) and in seconds we are given these:

Lettuce and perilla Leaves to be used as wraps plus green peppers which are actually sweet and without any hint of heat, and onions which we grill with the meat

Kimchi, raw garlic and the two sauces: ssamjang (the red pepper paste mix) and gireumjang (the sesame based sweet and spicy sauce).

A circle of hot flaming coals.

Samgyeopsal is the template for freestyle eating. Most Korean salarymen troop to Samgyeopsal restaurants for a soju (i.e. booze) binge with friends.

The three of us, Pinoy to the bones, eat our samgyeopsal with bap~Korean sticky rice!

How does one eat a samgyeopsal? Let us count the ways: Savour the grilled meat plain or dipped in one of the sauces. Wrap the meat in lettuce with a bit of the ssamjang, a bit of grilled onion and shove it to your mouth. Use the perilla leaf instead.

Us three, we love to grill the accompanying kimchi until it’s soft and smokey-sweet, add a few pieces with the pork, add a bit of grilled onion, and wrap everything in perilla and lettuce leaves. Yum-o!

Our Samgyeopsal dinner stretches into hours. The act of eating what has now become our comfort food in Korea is interspersed with the sound of our laughters and admittedly boisterous conversations. A few Korean diners look at us from time to time, perhaps surprised by the unfamiliar words they hear, or more possibly because sometimes we laugh too hard and shriek a pitch too loud. But they let us be, and we laugh and laugh, savoring perfectly grilled meats with perfectly fine friends.

Additional Info:

Our favorite Samgyeopsal Place is about ten minutes away from Yeoksam Station in Seoul. :-) Our meal for three costs about 30,000 won (about 1,400 pesos).

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