What’s For Dinner: Korean Barbecue

Welcome back to my blog on South Korean culture, food, and student life!

Before I get to the main dish of this post, let me give you a quick update on my crazy life over here.

Student Life: I have started getting back in the groove of doing homework, which consists almost entirely of business case studies and memorizing 100-plus Korean words every other week for quizzes.

Remember how scared I was of going to my business classes, thinking I was going to have a terrible time? Well, it turns out these classes are surprisingly simple. In fact, the lecture material and homework are so simple that it scares me. I no longer fear my classes – I just dread the moment I learn that I know nothing when midterms come around.

Food and Culture: I like to bundle these two together because they go hand-in-hand. A country’s culture shapes the presentation and taste of the food, and the food reflect the country’s rich and diverse culture. Photos of food are just an amazing and delicious way to talk about both!

Allow me to introduce to you the wonder that is Korean BBQ.

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This is Korean beef. And I say Korean beef because Korean beef is significantly more expensive than American beef. Korean beef, made from a cow born and raised in Korea, is generally more flavorful and tender than their American counterparts.

They also grade the beef based on its characteristics such as texture, consistency, and marbling. The highest grade for Hanwoo is 1++, followed by 1+, 1, 2 and 3. You might hear people talk about “Hanwoo”, which is simply the Romanization of “한우”, meaning Korean beef.

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Hanwoo refers to a breed of cattle raised in Korea called Bos taurus coreanae. Hoengseong County is renowned for producing Hanwoo, where the pristine environment and climate is perfect for raising high quality cattle.

Every year, the county holds a Hanwoo festival that people from all over the country go to sample high quality Korean beef, relax in the natural hot springs, watch fireworks, and enjoy other fun cultural activities.

I also just found out that this festival will be held October 7th to 11th! Well, it looks like this weekend will start with plates of delicious meat and hot spring baths… and end with an empty wallet. If I can figure out how to get there, you can definitely expect tons of pictures of it in my future blog posts.

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In the end, however, beef in general is a premium in Korea. Beef is still expensive because most of it is imported, and imported goods are quite expensive here. So instead, people usually eat chicken and pork as their main protein.

I’ve included more info and my personal commentary as captions on the photos themselves, so click on my photos and savor in their full-resolution goodness!

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Jerry ChengJerry Cheng is earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting at San Diego State University. He is photo blogging from Seoul, Korea for the 2015-2016 academic year.  

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