7 (Wed) March 2012
at CJH/KKH’s home
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ, CJH + KKH, MtG + NSJ, CSW
Meongge (멍게) is sea squirt aka sea pineapple aka Halocynthia roretzi. In Korea, the orange innards are consumed raw, doused in chogochujang, accompanied by a shot of soju, usually part of a larger spread comprising other raw seafood delicacies. Meongge has the firm-yet-slippery texture of uncooked clams and the bitter flavor of rubber soaked in rubbing alcohol. Like any so-called “delicacy,” meongge is objectively disgusting but adored by those who acquire the taste for it.
MtG returned from a recent trip to the seaside and announced that he’d scored some meongge. Actually, not just meongge but meongge jeotgal, a pickled version of the raw stuff. It’s traditionally mixed with rice and laver to make a bibimbab of sorts. Although I’m not a fan of meongge in any form, I’d never tried it pickled and could only imagine the ick intensified, so I was curious. CJH and KKH volunteered to host a gathering and offered to prepare additional foods, just in case.
It was more intense than I’d anticipated. After a tentative taste suggested that I wouldn’t like it very much, I made a regular bibimbap with the various namul on the table, slathered it in gochujang, and topped it with a tablespoon of the fermented meongge. Even then, I couldn’t get past the second bite. The meongge flavor was so powerful that, when I gave DJ some rice with the same spoon later on, he gagged and spit it out, declaring that something didn’t taste quite right. Indeed.
That said, the 0.5 rating here is a reflection of my subjective aversion to meongge, and to meongge jeotgal in particular, rather than this meongge jeotgal or meongge bibimbab per se.
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