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2.298 Pan-Grilled Chadolbagi

-Cycle 2, Item 298-
30 (Sun) October 2011

-Korean-
Pan-Grilled Chadolbagi

* * *

at Gaboja (가보자)
(Gyeonggi Rest Stop)

-Somewhere in GyeongGi-

with Wife, Dominic, Ahn HY + Kim IT + JH, Cho JH + Kim KH, Lee HS + Yun YH

In Korean barbecue parlance, "chadolbagi" (차돌박이) refers to a cut of beef located between the chest and belly.  Generally translated into English as "brisket," it's more precisely "lower brisket" (UK) or "point brisket/plate" (US).  The upper part of the brisket flap is referred to in Korean as "yangji (양지)," which is typically used for soups (see for example 1.322 Muu Guk).  The term "chadolbagi" literally means "marbling," but Koreans use the English word "marbling" to describe marbling.  In fact, relatively absent of internal marbling, chadolbagi is encased in a thick outer layer of fat, which isn't trimmed but served as an essential part of the cut.   Frozen whole then sliced paper-thin cross-sectionally, the pieces are grilled for a scant few seconds, just enough to get the meat crispy and the fat rendered down to a shriveled lace along the edges.


On our way home from camping, the caravan pulled over at a rest stop for a quick break but decided to stay for dinner when we saw that it had a barbecue restaurant.  It was one of those butcher shop cum restaurants in which the meat is sold, usually in bulk, at or near market prices (see generally 2.190 Grilled Brisket).  Here, the chadolbagi was 45,000 won for 600 grams (600 grams is equivalent to 1 geun (근), the traditional unit of measure for meat), which would be pretty cheap for a restaurant but a bit pricey for a butcher shop, especially since the meat wasn't that great.  Still, the final bill only came out to 120,000 won, not bad for 8 adults and 2 kids.


The campsite had been chosen for its proximity to a pier where we were set to go fishing in the morning. We crawled out of our tents at 5:00 AM, having crashed a couple hours earlier, and drove (drunk) to the pier because we'd been informed that the fish--mackerel and bass--would be at their hungriest between 6:00 and 9:00 in the morning. At the pier, we met up with a second group of friends and were taken by boat to a floating dock anchored a couple hundred meters off the coast. The dock, like all the other docks clustered in the area, was equipped with chairs, a picnic table, a porta-potty, a room that had a TV and a gas range, as well as an assistant to help with baiting the hooks and other tasks. 30,000 per person for the whole day. The idea was ingenious: catch loads and loads of fish, get back to the campsite by noon, and cook them for lunch in a variety of yummy ways. But after a couple hours, we'd caught squat. Even worse, nobody had been in a (sober) state of mind to pack anything--food, warm clothing, entertainment--a very unusual situation for people who are usually so overprepared when camping, so we were hungry, cold, and bored. We had to wait until 9:00 for the nearest restaurant to open, at which point we promptly ordered kimchi jjigae via boat delivery. Immediately following breakfast, some of us got the hell out, including me and the family, returned to site, crawled back into our tents, and slept. The stalwart others returned around mid-afternoon with a grand total of 5 lousy fish, which we forgot to eat.

Sunrise.

Bait.

Jinhee caught a tiny throwback fish within minutes, prompting us to make prematurely smug comments like, "It won't be much fun if it's too easy."

These docks are the fishing counterpart to car camping--a bit too convenient and artificial.

Dumbasses drinking soju at breakfast--"to sober up," they said.

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