1 (Thu) October 2020
at the cabin
-Changchon, Seowon, Hoengsong, Gangwon, Republic of Korea-
with the Family, Mom and Dad, maternal-side relatives
Songi (송이) is a pine mushroom. More commonly known outside of Korea by the Japanese term “matsutake.” Comes out once a year, during the fall. Grows only in the wild, under pine trees in the mountains, where the locations are carefully kept secret by foragers – it’s said that they won’t even tell their own children. The mushrooms, through a mycorrhizal relationship with the pine trees, take on a distinctive piney perfume. Delicately crispy, with a touch of chew. The biggest, freshest specimens are eaten raw, usually as is. The bigger, fresher specimens are grilled, sometimes dipped in salt and/or sesame oil. The big, fresh specimens are incorporated into dishes (e.g., galbi jjim). The rest are frozen and sold to Chinese restaurants to be included in their fanciest over-priced dishes (e.g., jeongabok). Songi are among the rarest, most cherished foods in Korean culture. For 1 kg, prices range from 150,000 won (big, fresh) to 250,000 won (bigger, fresher), up to 500,000 won (biggest, freshest).
Having spent pre-Chuseok with W’s family yesterday (see 11.269 Dotori Muk Sabal), we spent today with my family at the cabin.
Along with my mother’s extended family, we had dinner on the front porch.
The songi was amazing. A few seconds on the grill, the slices were perfectly crispy/chewy in texture, intensely woodsy in flavor. They paired perfectly with the juicy/beefy pieces of ribeye. Personally, the mushrooms aren’t really my thing, but once a year, during the holidays, in good company, on someone else’s dime, I’m amenable.
(For more details re food, see WHAT)
(For more details re venue, see WHERE IN KOREA)