11.270 Songi


1 (Thu) October 2020



by Mom

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).

250,000 won (bigger, fresher) x 2 kg, courtesy of my uncle – as a priest, he doesn’t have much else to spend his money on.
Shaved by cousin-in-law.
Sliced by Mom – I would estimate each slice to cost about 5,000 won.

Having spent pre-Chuseok with W’s family yesterday (see 11.269 Dotori Muk Sabal), we spent today with my family at the cabin.

Mom installed refrigerators on the front porch to facilitate such outdoor meals.
2.5 kg of Hanwoo 1+ ribeye – my contribution to the food.

Along with my mother’s extended family, we had dinner on the front porch.

As this photo would suggest, I can’t recall any rice or noodle dish being served through the entire meal.
Coals lit by me.
First, a few songi as appetizers.
Then, the beef.

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.

My cousin’s contribution, a steamed king crab plus clams and other shellfish, purchased earlier this morning from the seafood market in Seoul and brought to the cabin; after 10 hours in the styrofoam box, the food was still warm at dinner time.
Each nuclear family got 1 leg, regardless of how many family members, so the 4 of us had to share; I let the boys have what would’ve been my small portion.

(For more details re food, see WHAT)

(For more details re venue, see WHERE IN KOREA)

2 thoughts on “11.270 Songi

  1. Matsutake??? 1+ hanwoo??? King crab???
    All you’re missing is the truffle and caviar 😉

    1. Now that you mention it, the raw groceries for this meal probably came close to a million won.

      Truffle and caviar would’ve been cheaper.

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