4.214 Taste Test: Hanwoo v American Galbi

Cycle 4 – Item 214

7 (Wed) August 2013

Taste Test: Hanwoo v American Galbi

3.5

at Samwon Garden

-Sinsa, Gangnam, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with W and DJ, Mom + Dad, TW

For galbi, Samwon Garden offers versions comprising either Korean or American beef.

I conducted a taste test to determine whether the price differential is warranted.

The test went as follows.  1 order of Korean beef and 1 order of American beef were cooked side-by-side on the same grill over the same heat to medium rare.  Removing the ribs simultaneously onto separate plates, the meat was cut into bite-sized pieces.  The plates, marked only so that I could identify them, were passed around the table.  The tasting panel comprised my parents, W, DJ, cousin TW, and myself.  Each person tasted a piece of meat from one plate at random followed immediately by a piece from the other.  I was given the pieces on forks, skewered out of sight.  My father began getting ornery because of all the tomfoolery, so that’s all I could manage.   Everyone stated a preference, if any.

Korean beef (hanwoo): 55,000 won for 150 grams (36,670 per 100 grams) (photo shows 1 order)
American beef: 39,000 won for 160 grams (24,380 per 100 grams) (photo shows 3 orders)

The winner: NEITHER.  Other than my mother, who confidently if mistakenly declared the Korean beef to be American because it supposedly had a distinct off odor, nobody else noted any difference between the two.  I too found the two pieces identical.  Perhaps under controlled circumstances, with repeat samplings, as well as palate cleansing in between, and extended intervals to chew and evaluate, some subtle variances could be detected.  But as it was, the two pieces seemed to exhibit the same flavor – same marinade, of course, which would have a significant equalizing effect – neither more nor less beefy, or off, despite my mother’s claim, and they seemed comparably tender.  The Korean beef, priced 50% higher than the American beef, was therefore not worth the extra money.  This would probably hold true in any case involving top quality meat in marinade.

(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)

(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)

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