-Cycle 2, Dinner 207-
31 (Sun) July 2011
at Dong-Suwon Agu-Jjim (동수원 아구찜)
with my parents, Wife, and Dominic
All I care to know about this fish--which goes by the name "bok" (복) in Korean, "fugu" in Japanese, "tetraodontidae" in Latin, and "blow/puffer/balloon/bubble/globe/swell/toadfish," as well as "honey/sugar toad" and "sea squab," in English--is that it's poisonous but tastes pretty good. Actually, it doesn't really taste much like anything but has a clean and lean flavor with a slightly chewy texture. The cham-bok (참복), a sub-species that I couldn't find an English translation for, is cleaner and leaner and chewier and costs about double. For more information about bok in general, check out Wikipedia (see entry on Tetraodontidae), which is where I got all those names.
Other than the type of fish, bok-jjim (복찜) is a dish identical to agu-jjim (아구찜), the spicy monkfish and bean sprout stir-fry that I described in a previous post (see 1.333 Agu-Jjim).
This restaurant, a five-minute drive from Ajou University, was one of my favorite restaurants for both agu-jjim and bok-jjim--but no longer. First of all, the flesh of the fish was unpleasantly flaky, a sign of extended freezing. When asked, the owner looked to the side and mumbled that, no, the fish was completely fresh. On top of that, in reference to the old joke about the soup being terrible and not enough of it, there wasn't enough of it. And at 70,000 won for the platter, which included just 6 tiny pieces of fish, a complete ripoff.
The plan had been to enjoy a family feast on the eve of my mother's surgery. Scheduled to have a benign growth in her nasal cavity removed the following morning at Ajou University Hospital, we got her checked in and then promptly smuggled her out for a final good meal to carry her through the next couple weeks, when all the blood and bandages shoved up her nose would prevent her from tasting anything. Also, the word "bok" is a homonym for "luck." The food wasn't very good, but hopefully it was lucky.