A bovine body part buffet…

Apologies for the delay, I think it’s taken my stomach a week to get over it, but last Friday I added to the ever-growing list of bovine organs that I have now eaten. My best friend (at least she was up until then!)  took me to her favourite restaurant for what she described as ‘an authentic Korean experience’. That probably should have set alarm bells ringing, but as we’d already polished off a few bottles of soju, we set off, with me proudly announcing that she didn’t need to worry and that I would try anything. In hindsight it might not have been the best choice of words.

Gopchang (곱창) on the left and makchang (막창) on the right…yum

Unable to decide whether we should have cow rectum (막창 – makchang) or intestines (곱창 – gopchang), she ordered a plate of each. And two more bottles of soju. The banchan (side dishes) at this restaurant didn’t just consist of the usual kimchi, bean sprouts and seaweed soup. Oh no, this place served chunks of raw liver with sesame seeds, and something called 천엽 that Google translated as ‘superficial lobe’, but further research has shown me that it’s proper name is the ‘omasum’ and it’s just another part of the stomach (also served raw). The liver was absolutely horrific, and both of us really struggled to eat it, but the 천엽 actually wasn’t so bad. The soju probably helped though.

천엽 (cheonyeop) and raw liver

Mmm…yum yum

Then came the main course; a large plate of 소막창 (cow rectum) and an equally large plate of 소곱창 (cow intestines). Having already eaten 돼지막창 (pig rectum) I kind of knew what to expect, it was just…bigger. Although 소막창 (beef makchang) is meant to be much better than 돼지막창 (pig makchang), I can’t honestly say I’m a fan of either. It’s not because of the taste, it just tastes meaty, but it is simply too chewy for me, although that is part of the appeal for Koreans. I quite liked the gopchang, it tasted a little bit like bacon if I thought really hard about it, and it was a lot less chewy than the makchang. The only slightly off-putting thing was the thick white paste oozing out of either end, which I later learned was mucus.

As the owner was so surprised to see a foreigner in his restaurant (now I know why), he gave us a dish of 염통 (sliced cow heart) as service. I thought it was the nicest part of the meal really, it was a little bit like steak, only it tasted a lot bloodier than that. It was actually quite hard to get the metallic-y taste out of my mouth, but again, the soju helped.

Gopchang and makchang

When I was beginning to struggle both my friend and the restaurant owner kept reassuring me of the supposed health benefits of eating intestines. They also said eating it guaranteed I wouldn’t have a hangover the next day. Lies. Barefaced lies.

Still best friends really!

My real best friend during this meal!

돼지 막창 – Crispy pig rectum

So, here’s something I didn’t expect from my Wednesday evening; I just ate pig rectum. Well, several pigs’ probably.

Whilst it didn’t feature on my Korean culinary bucket list, I think it definitely would have qualified had I known about it at the time. It’s worth pointing out that we actually ordered it by accident. We tried ‘somewhere new’ tonight and in addition to our old, trusted favourite 갈매기살 (rib meat), Nathan, in his infinite wisdom, looked at the first thing on the menu and asked for that. ‘That’ turned out to be sliced, grilled pig rectum. But in the true Korean spirit of not letting anything go to waste, we tucked in.

Having been chemically cleaned (seriously), it was served up with the usual array of kimchis, lettuce leaves, and soy dipping sauce. It did take a lot, and I mean a lot, of chewing, but the flavour was surprisingly nice, although my imagination began to get the better of me after the first few pieces.

I then heard myself uttering a sentence I never in a million years thought I’d say. “I think I’ve got bum stuck in my teeth”.’