Why do Koreans love Galbi so much? 한국인의 유별난 갈비 사랑

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Photos by Angela Kim

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (7)

One of the best soul food for Korean, Galbi 한국의 대표적인 소울 푸드, 갈비

Why do Koreans love Galbi so much?

Regardless of your gender and age, there are a few Korean dishes that all Koreans love. Galbi, pork belly, noodle with black sauce, Budae jjigea(spicy stew with ham, sausages and noodle) and so can be listed and among these, I would like to talk about Galbi. Koreans seem have loved Galbi from long time ago.

Most of us have that memory of birthday, first day of school celebration, graduation and other special occasion as a child, when parents took a hand of excited little child to a place to get a bite of some Galbi. As the word Galbi can be found in ‘Seung Jeong won Diary’ written during 7th year of King Injo (1639) on the 24th of June, the love for Galbi has been seeded in our life long before we realize. Then why do Koreans love Galbi so much?

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (12)

Koreans seem have loved Galbi from long time ago 갈비는 한국의 역사와 그 궤를 같이 하고 있다

Sweet little Galbi marinated in soy sauce

Foreigners who have tasted Galbi once in Korea couldn’t forget the taste that they have to visit Korea again for it. Hollywood star Brad Pitt also has said “The last time I came to Korea I was impressed by the taste of Galbi. This time, I came to Korea with Pax to have Galbi one more time. Korean food is really fantastic.” in 2013. So what about Galbi that brings foreigners back to Korea for more of it?

The answer will be the sweet taste of soy sauce. Galbi sauce has sweet flavor that is made mainly of soy sauce and onions then sugar, minced green onions, minced garlic, ginger, rice wine, starch syrup and pear juice. Sine it requires a lot of ingredients, you can find pre-made sauce now that is so popular among people who hasn’t got time to make the sauce from scratch. Korean marinated Galbi isn’t sweet simply because of sugar but because of onions, green onions, pear juice as well as sticky starch syrup all of which make you lick your finger after digging through Galbi.

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (11)

Usually, Korean eats Galbi with various Banchan(side dishes) 다양한 반찬들과 함께 할 때 갈비의 맛은 배가되기 마련이다

Delicious on the eyes, Fun at the grill and enjoy sharing

The charm of Galbi is the fun of grilling the meat with diamond shape cuts on them yourself. Western steak is served grilled already in kitchen so we only get to see the complete dish of it, however Korean Galbi does the opposite. A plate of Galbi that is shinning of sauce is served on the table then you can cook your Galbi right on the grill installed on the table. A good restaurant will have a good staff that cooks for you as well. The sound and smell of meat being cooked on grill will stimulate the glands in your mouth.

You can’t help but smile silly once you start flipping the meat on grill making god smoke rise out of it. Placing a slice of meat on a green leaf with bean paste sauce, garlic, green onion salad and others is another fun you can’t miss. Burning charcoal and the smoky smell from it will get you break the ice with anyone around the table. It is practically the best social activity as it stimulates you to socialize better while you cook things yourself and share the food with others other than the food itself is already stimulating for all 5 senses.

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (5)

In the table of Korea, various style vegetable side dishes are very important 다양한 채소 반찬은 한식에서만 느낄 수 있는 고유의 장점이다

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (4)

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (2)

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (1)

Also when you order Galbi, you are also served with various side dished that you will have to decide which one to eat with each slice of your meat. Foreigners are basically dying for the free unlimited side dishes.

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (13)

To Koreans, Galbi isn’t just any slice of meat. It’s a cheer up present to oneself who has been running around like a bull.

‘It’s been tough’ a present to myself, a slice of Galbi

It is a common scene now to witness a family going out for Galbi on weekends, but only a few years ago, it was quite the luxury dish that not every family could afford. Galbi used to be so expensive that it was impossible to have them other than on very special occasion. Every payday a month, my father would wake us up yelling “Let’s get some Galbi” so confidently, I remember that I would jump out of my bed in the middle of the sleep. Especially when we have beef Galbi instead of pork Galbi, which we could have may be once or twice, that meant something amazing had happened. To Koreans, Galbi is nostalgic and even romantic memory.

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (15)

For your information, not many foreigners know this but your tongue will thank you if you use marinated Myungee leafe, perllia leaf, butterbur leaf and other leaves to slap the meat on. If you have friends visiting from other country, please introduce them the dishes.

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (3)

Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch's Galbi (17)

Location: Songchoo Gama Gol Pangyo branch
Address: Song Choo Gama Gol Ineouban Alpharium 2, Pangyoyuk ro 145, Bundang gu, Sungnam City, Kyunggi Province
Tel: 031-705-8504
Website: http://www.gamagoll.com/

 

 

yk kimContributor, Angela Kim

She is a food journalist of Digital Chosun Newspaper. In recent, she is working as a food director for restaurant business consulting. Also, she works as a member of Korea Tourism Organization’s Korea food team and appears on various media in Korea.

음식전문기자 출신인 김유경은 현재 외식업 컨설팅 푸드 디렉터로 활동하고 있다. 또한, 한국관광공사 및 해외 문화원과 연계해 해외에서 한식홍보를 하고 있으며, TV, 라디오 등 요리관련 프로그램에도 출연 중이다.

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