6.019 Meoktae


24 (Sat) January 2015



at Nogari

-Yaksu, Seoul-

with the family and various members of the camping crew

The Prodigal Son Returns to Be a Father to His Sons, a Grandson to His Grandfather, Day 3 (see previously 6.018 Bok Jeongsik).

In town for a few days, arrived this evening, flying back Monday night.

3 tasks on the agenda : (1) attend Z’s daycare pageant (his first) (maybe his last)–done; (2) ski with D–done; (3) engage in shamanistic ritual for the grandparents.  No task today.


No smoking, one aspect distinctly and thankfully new-school, which allows us to bring kids into such an establishment.
BTW, this wasn’t dinner, just post-prandial snacks and beverages–my kind of dessert.

Nogari is a Korean pub.  All about nostalgia*.  Decor = minimalist/shabby, intentionally.  Menu = cheap/quick/convenient, stuff that would’ve been found in a hole-in-the-wall joint for poor college students back in the day.


Now that the country on the whole has attained a certain degree of socio-economic stability, Koreans seem comfortable enough to appreciate aspects of their culture from a time when they didn’t have it so good.   Up through the 1990s, everything had to be overly modern and slick, preferably western, seemingly expensive, from architecture and decor to food and fashion, just to show everyone and each other how far they’d come–textbook nouveau riche.  These days, the trend has taken the opposite extreme, reverse ostentation.  Someday soon, hopefully, it’ll even out until only the good stuff remains, regardless of new or old.

Point-of-sale marketing: roasted at the entrance for everyone to see; surprisingly, though, not with the charcoal cylinders of yore (i.e., yeontan) to maintain the old-school theme.

Korean has several words to describe cod/pollack in various forms: “myeongtae” = the fish itself; “nogari” = baby/young; “saengtae” = fresh; “dongtae” = frozen; “bugeo” = dried (see for example 1.339 Bugeo Guk); “hwangtae” = freeze-dried (see for example 4.020 Hwangtae Miyeok Guk); “meoktae” = semi-dried.  (Until I started drafting this paragraph, I hadn’t ever made the connection between all of these terms.)  Whereas pop lexicology holds that the evolution of diverse onomasiological nomenclature in a language to convey the esoteric nuances of a thing proves the profundity of its significance to the culture**, this species of fish isn’t particularly popular/prized/prestigious.  Certainly not compared to others, such as croaker/corvina (gulbi) or mackerel (godeungeo/samchi/ggongchi), which all claim but one term each.  I don’t get it.

Grilled Ramyeon (1.5)–Koreans, usually kids, sometimes eat uncooked ramyeon as a snack, sprinkling the powder soup mix as seasoning; tastes pretty much like any other processed cracker/chip; personally, I was never into it; the practice is less common these days with so many options available; here, the noodles are grilled over charcoal to intensify the flavor; never seen this offered as a menu item at any place anywhere–it’d be like finding toasted marshmallows in an American bar.
Grilled Seaweed (2.0)–dried laver is, of course, one of the most common side dishes in a typical Korean spread; but, as with the ramyeon above, I’ve never seen it sold as a stand-alone dish–it’d be like an American restaurant selling shredded lettuce.
Fried Egg (2.5)–really?

**Not really.  The most famous example is that eskimos, allegedly, have many words for snow, a widely held belief that is now referred by some linguists as “The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax.” Koreans all believe that Koreans are prodigiously expressive because the language supposedly has so many different words for a given color, when in fact the words are merely reworkings of the same root word, sort of like “black … blacky … blackish … blackity … blackity-black”).  Sounds right, as most pop science does, but isn’t.


The meoktae was amazing.  Semi-dried, the flesh retained just enough moisture to keep it juicy, like good beef jerky.  Subtle pollack flavor, briny but not salty, fishy but not fishy.  In itself, a solid 3.5.  But elevated to perfection with the dipping sauce–mayonnaise + garlic + soy + chilies + something else that I couldn’t place–which smoothed out the texture and provided kick and heat and sweet.  Never realized that something like this could be like this.

Afterwards, the gang came over to see the new apartment and have a few more drinks; we got some meoktae to go as anju.

2 thoughts on “6.019 Meoktae

  1. “Whereas pop lexicology holds that the evolution of diverse onomasiological nomenclature in a language to convey the esoteric nuances of a thing proves the profundity of its significance to the culture”

    wow. them’s some big words. Language is fascinating, no matter what tongue.

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