To you or me they may seem inedible, but for the Koreans, they are delicacies. To celebrate Discovering Korean Food on LifeStyle FOOD, here are 9 crazy Korean dishes you'd need to be brave to try...
Think you’ve got an adventurous palate? Imagine getting your laughing gear around these crazy dishes!
1. Beondegi - Silkworm Larvae
If you can get past the fact you’re eating a worm pupae, this popular Korean street food – served hot and seasoned – is said to be delicious!
These little guys, served hot and seasoned in their own juice, are like a grab-on-the-go snack, the same way an Aussie might eat a meat pie. Served by street vendors and many restaurants, you can also grab a can to-go in many supermarkets. Gaining popularity during the Korean War as a good source of protein and macro nutrients, the taste caught on and it’s now a popular dish. The smell is said to be ‘pungent, distinguished and memorable, but surprisingly appealing’ according to Earthexecution.com.
2. Teuksubuwi - Cow Digestive System
Some people think that eating ox-tail or cow-tongue is bizarre, so by comparison, eating the cow digestive system isn’t that strange – the Scottish have been eating tripe for centuries. Each stomach has its own texture and taste – with the fourth stomach being the tastiest with the consistency of overcooked squid with a rich beefy taste. It’s also said to be very high in iron and vitamins.
3. Bokjili - Deadly Blowfish Soup
If you’ve ever wondered what danger tastes like, then you might like to serve up some blowfish - the most poisonous vertebrae in the world. While the fact it has enough venom to kill two dozen men (and no anti-venine) will put you off – only skillfully trained chefs with stringent government licensing are allowed to prepare the blowfish. Unlike the Japanese, who prefer it raw, Koreans prepare the blowfish by boiling it in a soup with red pepper paste, garlic and vegetables with the meat having a dense, slightly fibrous texture.
You may have heard of Fugu, the Japanese delicacy prepared only by certified chefs. Bokjili is the Korean equivalent, but is more common as chefs don't need certification to serve the poisonous fish.
4. Gaebul - Live Spoon Worms
5. Sannakji - Live Octopus
Now you’ve gotten used to a live creature wriggling about in your mouth, it’s time to graduate to live baby octopus. They’ve been sliced and diced so they’re technically dead, but that doesn’t mean they don’t squirm for all their worth. You have to admire their survival instinct – even after being chopped up their suction cups will stick to your mouth and throat, which is why they are often served with oil. Otherwise, you can pop a baby octopus whole into your gob and enjoy the rubbery, chewy and fairly tasteless fare. Despite its ‘ew’ factor, this dish has been around for centuries and is eaten as a vitality enhancer.
6. Dalkbal - Chicken Feet
We eat almost every other part of the chicken, why not the chicken feet? Most westerners may turn their nose up, but it turns out talons are actually pretty tasty. Scrape the meat off with your teeth working around the bones, but before you do, make sure you’re in the mood for mind numbing hotness - Dalkbal is known to be one of the spiciest dishes in Korea.
7. Hongeo - Fermented Skate
It’s a Korean delicacy, but even most Koreans aren’t willing to give it a second go! The extreme pungency of skate – which many liken to the stink of ammonia means that you’ll have a hard time finding a restaurant that serves it. Why the extreme smell? Rays are a cartilaginous fish where they excrete uric acid through the skin, rather than urinating. Yummy. If you do decide to have a try, order it with the alcoholic beverage makgeolli, which is said to help diners cope.
The sprightly mix of glass noodles, heart, liver and other organs stuffed into a pig intestine in a rich spicy broth may gross out foreign visitors, but then you might like to consider what goes into a hot dog next time you chow down – SundaeGuk most likely pales in comparison.
What takes Sundae over the top is the other bits and pieces that are chopped up and served with the salt and spicy dipping sauce: liver, heart, organs with big veins.
Don’t miss Discovering Korean Food with Gizzi on LifeStyle FOOD.