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Posts Tagged ‘육회’

Duck feet in Beijing

More pics of the duck posted here


I’ve been getting up at 5:30 in the morning to make it to my 6:30 cooking classes on time. There are four different cuisines offered, and I’m learning to make some Korean food. This morning’s challenge was raw beef. Well, to be exact, “육회” in Korean, or “beef sashimi” translated. It’s strips of raw beef seasoned with the six staples of Korean seasoning — salt, garlic, green onions, sugar, and ground sesame seeds and sesame oil — then served with pear slices and raw egg yolk to mix it in (how more raw can you get here). Here are some pictures of it for those who are skeptical that it’s a real dish.

Because the class starts so early in the morning, my breakfast is usually what I make in class. When I was taking the “Western” course, some of my breakfast involved fried fish, roasted chicken, or meatballs. I had no problem. Heck, I even downed a 8 oz steak one morning (it was a long class).

But today, I couldn’t do it. I have had it once — a tiny piece that was a size of a sesame seed. I do eat and quite enjoy a huge variety of raw fish, but the fleshy red color of raw meet, with no brownness to it, is too literal. I start imagining the actual living flesh of the animal being butchered and all. Why would you eat it when there is so much good food around, including cooked beef, with all that Maillard reaction goodness?

Speaking of strange things to eat while there is already so much good food, I was served more “weird” parts of animals during my business trip to Beijing than I had ever been in total in my entire life. At a famous Peking Duck restaurant, the table barely had any room left for the actual duck meat (meat as in the white fleshy part I’m used to), after they had already filled it up with duck heads with duck brains and duck tongues, duck liver, duck hearts, duck feet, duck skin, duck broth, duck something else, duck another something else, and more ducky stuff. For the adventurous foodie I claim to be, I tried them in the order of extremeness. After rounding off the feast with the feet (which tasted a bit like jellyfish…which may be another extreme for many), I really thought all the ducky parts I just ate would somehow all get together, turn into a duck and climb out of me (reminded me of the movie Alien and I felt damn sick for a moment).

They all tasted all right. They were all new flavors and textures, expanding my eating experience. In fact, I did enjoy the hearts quite a bit and had more than two (it was cooked, FYI). I must be more qualified as a foodie now, right?

But how far does one go to experience new tastes? Who the heck thought of eating duck feet in the first place anyway? What about shellfish, the slimy stuff in rock-hard shells? What about chestnuts in its dangerously spiky shell and another hard, rubbery layer inside? Were people that hungry? I guess it’s hard to tell now, when you no longer question whether the strange creature you’ve tumbled upon is edible or not because you are so starving.

Truly babbling tonight. What’s your most adventurous eating experience?

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