Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Korean food : Korean Steak Tartare - Yukhoe (육회)

Another food entry. This time, it's Yukhoe[yook-hwe], Korean steak tartare. Yukhoe directly translates to meat(yuk) sashimi(hoe). Yes, it's marinated raw steak meat. It's chewy, meaty... and... uh, I think Yukhoe is one of those things you just need to try it out first.

Source : Wikipedia
 And you might have guessed... it's great with Soju. I think it's a prerequisite for all Korean food. Yukhoe is actually another very popular Anju for Soju. More after.

What is it, exactly?

It's similar to French steak tartare. Except Koreans like to marinate (sometimes not marinated, though) the meat in this soy-sauce based marinate that is sort of like Bulgogi-marinate.

The marinate usually has soysauce, sugar, garlic, green onions, sesame, and sesame oil in it. You pour the sauce, lightly toss it with the chopped steak, garnish it with some Korean pear slices and a raw egg. I guess you need to bring out the soju too, I guess. Usually it comes out with some sort of dipping sauce, spicy or sweet.

Health Concerns

Obviously, you might ask : isn't eating raw beef really bad? Yes, there's E-coli, Mad cow, and other kinds of bacteria and parasites. Beef is very vulnerable to spoilage after all.

Meat classification in Korea is very detailed and sophisticated in freshness, part differentiation, quality, and place of origin. Korean people are very sensitive about meat quality, especially if the meat comes from overseas. You might remember the outrage this country faced when the government agreed to import American beef.

If you're living in Korea and trying to make Yukhoe, you can find some quality and fresh meat in popular grocery stores for Yukhoe (they usually come prepared and are specifically for Yukhoe). If you're eating out, then you might wanna pick some reputable and popular Yukhoe places instead of picking the cheapest one.

It's not without history of accidents. In 2011, 4 people died from E-coli infection after eating Yukhoe in Japan. So be careful about picking restaurants if you're planning to eat Yukhoe outside of Korea.

Of course, if you have a weak immune system or weak stomach, don't take your chances. But if you are up for trying, give it a try sometime.

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