How to eat Yook Gae Jang?
- John Piekarski
Or is it Jung?
A coworker and I went for lunch, and I ordered the Yook Gae Jang -- a dish of shredded beef, scallions and mushrooms in a spicy broth and served with rice. It was tasty, but I just couldn't figure out the best way to eat it. The beef and scallions were in such long pieces that it was hard to handle.
At first, I put pieces of the beef and scallions on top of some rice on my plate and tried to eat with chopsticks. Then -- at the suggestion of my coworker (who is a regular at this Korean restaurant) -- I added rice to the bowl of Yook Gae Jang and tried to eat it with a spoon. Both ways I had trouble trying to untangle the beef and scallions into managable pieces. It was messy, and I felt very self-conscious.
Any Korean cuisine experts have suggestions on how to do better next time? (I'd liked the dish and want to order it again.)
There's no "right way" to eat YGJ...the stringy beef and scallions are a pain, the best you can do is pull them apart with your chopsticks.
There are generally four types of Korean soup consumers:
1. Dump the bowl of rice into soup and eat away.
2. Spoon a bit of rice, dunk into soup and eat.
3. Take spoonfulls of soup and bring it over to your rice bowl.
4. Keep 'em separated.
Do whatever works best for you!
From what I remember from my working-class visits to Korea in the distant past (which naturally might not be remembering enough!) many people would hold a bowl of whatever they were eating near their face, and use sticks to sort of shovel it in. Seems to be a clean solution on how to eat, and you get the aromas from the bowl right square in the nose. A seemingly informal contrast to the social formalities used when drinking Soju in a group.
i eat the beef, green onions and anything else long and un-spoonfriendly with chopsticks and then dunk spoonfuls of rice into the soup to absorb it.