Every region of Korea has its own culinary specialty. A group of friends and I found ourselves in Jinju (Gyeongsangnam-do) last weekend, and we decided to sample some local flavor. Jinju is known for yukhoe (pronounced yook hway) bibimbap – raw beef mixed rice. While some people may have eaten raw beef before, I hadn’t. In Japan, I had a dish with raw egg and felt squeamish… surely I would contract salmonella or worse! But it was fine (and delicious), and part of being a traveler is trying new things. Otherwise, why bother?
A new Korean friend took us to a local market where we could find a few restaurants, including one that specialized in this dish. There was literally a line out the door and around the corner, always a good sign!
We went upstairs. Sat down. Looked at the neighboring table. They had ordered an entire plate of raw beef, which looked pretty scary. Hesitantly, we ordered our dishes and awaited our future food-poisoning…
But then this came:
It was delicious. The bibimbap alone was really great, with lots of veggies and other goodies, but the meat was super flavorful. The beef seasoning included soy sauce, sesame oil, and even Korean pear, which is pretty traditional. I ate an entire bowl and half of Andy’s!
This particular restaurant also served a bowl of beefy, oniony soup with each order. The banchan were radish kimchi, pickled radish, and ojingeojeot (fermented squid – sounds gross but is amazing). All in all a great place!
Freaky Food: Yukhoe bibimbap (raw beef mixed rice)
Verdict: A must-try!