When I would go to visit Zoe in Alexandria, Virginia, we would pass this restaurant on Route 1 that had a large yellow sign out front that said Korean BBQ and Sushi. With neither of us ever having had Korean BBQ, we had no idea what we were missing. We both assumed it was like American BBQ and as Zoe does not like Sushi, it wound up never being a restaurant we went to. Oh what we were missing.
A few weeks ago, I saw this sign on Facebook about the countries in the world that had the lowest percentages of overweight people and the number 1 country was Korea, followed by Japan. So I began learning a bit more about Korean cuisine. The most common dish I kept finding were various forms of Korean BBQ. In some respects, it is similar to American BBQ in that it can be marinated and then grilled; however, that is where the similarity ends.
Recently, I made my first attempt at a type of Korean BBQ called Bulgogi, which is a marinated beef dish. This is where I noticed the first differences. When I have made the “Q” before, I have always marinated the entire piece of meat before cooking it. With Korean BBQ, you begin by cutting amazingly thin slices of the meat. So my first step was to figure out how to cut this beautiful sirloin steak into 1/16 of an inch slices. However, one recipe I read suggested that I cut the meat while slightly frozen. This made all the difference in the world.
I marinated the meat in the mixture for a few hours, then drained the marinade and grilled in a hot pan on my stove. The first time I made it, I served it over Jasmine rice. However, the next time I make it I am going to use it to make a Korean style taco with fresh corn tortillas.
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine)
1 teaspoon bottled minced ginger
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
The funny thing is that before I learned to freeze the meat and then slice it, I spoke to the butcher about how to do this. He looked at me as if I had three heads. “Why do you want to do that to a perfectly good piece of meat?” so why is it that when we do something “non-traditional” with an ingredient it is questioned? What amazing dishes would have not been created because someone dared to do something different with it?
The look on the butcher’s face reminded me of how some of the more progressive theologians were greeted when they proposed new and progressive interpretations of scripture. Why is it that we are sometimes so ingrained in a way of doing things or understanding things that we shut ourselves out of experiencing or tasting something different? What are we missing when we do that? What new understandings of food or spirit have we not gained? What new understandings about God, self, and life are we driving by because we are not sure what it is? Having tasted Korean BBQ now, I have a different understanding of what we missed all those times we did not stop at that roadside restaurant in Alexandria, VA. Knowing what I missed that one time, has raised my consciousness about the gifts that can come from “tasting” the unknown. So what have you missed or almost missed in your life?