I remember reading a long time ago that the feeling of revulsion when you look at shit (in the literal sense) is an evolutionary trait. Being revolted at crap is evolutionally successful as it prevents you from going near it and getting all kinds of ill. And it is successful, people don’t eat shit.
However, that feeling of revuslion can extend beyond crap to different foods depending on where you are from. In any country there are the ‘strange’ dishes which foreigners go “yuk – how can you eat that?!” about. Back in the UK it is black pudding (blood) and haggis (sheep’s heart, liver lungs). Here in Asia it is internal organs. For a Westerner there is something a touch frightening about them which is akin to that sense of revulsion when faced with crap.
However, I’m a good expat now, I eat all kinds of strange stuff and am currently trying to find a place to eat raw fresh spine juice from a cow in Korea (which is a rare and hard to find delicacy so let me know if you know of a place). So when Bridge paperzine* offered to take Jen and I for gopchang I wasn’t at all worried.
So what is gopchang (곱창)? It is the small intestine of the cow. However, from our experience at the restaurant it wasn’t the gopchang which was the problem. The gopchang was actually damn tasty and easy to munch on. It crisps in a pan with vegetables for 15 minutes or so and then you eat it in small cuts like an amputated little finger. The stuff inside the small intestine – or gop 곱 – is the solidified cow faecal matter and ends up as slightly chewy and sweet when cooked. As soon as our next guest visits I am off to take them to a gopchang restaurant. So no problems with the evolutionary trait there.
Instead it was what I would describe as the ‘tapas’ which comes before the gopchang which was the problem. The easiest was the raw cow’s heart which you lightly cook in the same pan as the gopchang. That was easy, that was delicious.
The other two ‘tapas’ were raw cow stomach and raw liver (stomach on the left and liver on the right two pictures above). For some reason the texture, the sheen, the wobble of the liver broke me. I could barely bring myself to eat it. Even after trying it – and loving it – I still had to confront myself each and everytime I had more.
As you can see from the picture above it is not just us who loved it. I have no idea who the people in the picture are. They just demanded I take a picture of them and then conspired to all shut their eyes at the same time. Ah soju.
- Price – KRW 20 to 30,000 for four
- Address – Sinchon, Seoul < I left the business card at home so will have to do it properly later