Sunday, March 4, 2007

It's a Dog-eat-dog World

If you are squeamish about eating anything that is not a vegetable, cow, pig, chicken or fish, you might want to skip this post. Given that warning and the subject, you can probably guess where this is going...

So, despite Koreans being (in)famous for eating dog meat (gehgogi/게고기), this is actually a fairly uncommon thing for most Koreans to eat. I'm under the impression that most Koreans, if they've ever even had gehgogi, have only had it a small handful of times. I think this might be due to a combination of it being relatively expensive these days, easy access to other meats (esp. pork and chicken), concerns about Korea's international culinary reputation, and pressure from animal rights groups.

In any case, gehgogi is part of Korea's culinary heritage, and so I still felt I should try it out to better experience what this country has to offer. That being said, here's the restaurant we went to last Tuesday night:

Funny note: the restaurant next door with the blue sign is for "Fugu" or blowfish which is a very (in)famous Japanese food (which can be lethal if not properly prepared). Another interesting thing was that the menus we got made absolutely no mention to dog anywhere. It actually said "beef" in several places, or sometimes just the generic "meat." This is to just avoid trouble with squeamish foreigners who are not accepting of eating dog meat. At first, I thought this was kind of funny, but thinking about it more, it actually makes me kind of sad. It's really a result of the traditional Korean culture being attacked by western customs and practices. Every culture has foods that other cultures find to be weird/gross/bizarre/unfathomable, but it's all just a matter of what we're used to. We don't eat dogs in the West, Indians are known for not eating beef (although there are plenty that do), and kids don't like vegetables. I don't think that really makes any of those food items any more or less acceptable. Ok, enough of the soapbox and let's get on with the doggies.

Before we get to the main dishes, we got this cool sauce that I hadn't seen before. Best that I could figure out, there was sesame oil, yellow mustard, chili paste, and a whole bunch of brown mustard seeds. After mixing it together, it made for a pretty tasty paste/condiment.

Here's the pot heating up for the first dish.

This is a side dish/soup, which is basically either a thin stew or a thick soup made from dog meat. There wasn't any obvious meat in here, so I guess the stock is probably made from bones and what not. It had a very rich flavor, somewhat salty, but quite pleasant over all.

Dog meat and veggies. I'm not sure how to describe this, as it was mostly just the dog meat boiled in some light stock (maybe even just water?), which was probably a good way to appreciate the flavor of the dog without all sorts of other distracting ingredients. Overall, it tasted pretty good. Somewhere between beef and pork in texture (I think the meat was more like beef in feel/texture, but it was fattier like pork), and it had a slightly gamier or other stronger flavor.

Dog dish number three. More dog meat with veggies, but this time it was stewed in a red chili soup base. So a little spicier due to the base, but the meat tasted similar. Overall, I thought dog meat tasted pretty good. If you're not squeamish about it and you're looking for some new culinary experiences, I'd say go for it.


Hsien-Hsin Sean said...

I was told (since I was a kid) that dogs are able to recognize and attack dog-meat-eaters... Next time, come to my house and try to pet Google. I want to know if such saying is true...

Gabe said...

Sure thing. I'm sure he'll quickly forget after some petting and belly rubs though.