3.361 Sagol Tang

-Cycle 3, Item 361-
31 (Mon) December 2012

Sagol Tang


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife and Dominic

Sagol are beef shank bones.  The term refers metaphorically to the four ("sa") bones ("gol") comprising a cow's limb set.  Cut into cross sections, the bones are boiled for several hours in water to derive stock.  The process that I employ at home is identical to the steps involved in cooking oxtail (see 3.111 Ggori Tang).  Due to the nature of sagol (more marrow, for one thing), the broth ends up milky in appearance and creamy in texture, as opposed to the gumminess of oxtail broth (resulting from connective tissue broken down).  Though prized for its perceived nutritional value (do bones have nutritional value?), the absence of meat leaves sagol broth relatively flavorless, making it more suitable as a base stock for soups that include other components (see for example 2.007 Ugeoji Sagol Tang).  

38,000 won for 1.5 kg, which isn't cheap but produces 3-4 strong liters of stock per rendering, up to 3 renderings possible (each subsequent rendering less intense). 

After the first rendering, the bones already begin to hollow out. 

Sliced daepa, similar to leek, is an essential garnish for most Korean beef soups. 

All natural, powdered beef bouillon. 

Accordingly, serving the broth as a standalone soup ("tang") would be somewhat unusual, as here.  In fact, I made a large batch this evening for use in tomorrow's ddeok guk, a rice cake soup traditionally eaten for breakfast on New Year's Day (see generally 1.361 Ddeok Guk).  With the excess, I conceived a noodle soup similar to seolleong tang (see generally 2.328 Seolleong Tang), sans the beef.  But the broth was so plain, despite a generous dash of powdered beef bouillon for extra flavor, that the noodles came through tasting a bit pasty.  Solus, however, seasoned with salt and pepper and garnished with sliced daepa, the broth was exquisite in its elegant austerity.  

The initial concept.

3.360 A Pair of McDoubles

-Cycle 3, Item 360-
30 (Sun) December 2012

A Pair of McDoubles


at McDonald's (E-Mart)

-Seongsu, Seoul-


The McDouble is a McDonald's burger.  It consists of a plain bun, two beef patties, cheese, ketchup & mustard, minced onion, and pickles.  It's essentially the same thing as the standard Cheeseburger, except with an additional beef patty.  What I love about the Cheeseburger is its simple representation of that distinct McDonald's taste, a proprietary je ne sais quois artificiality that can't be found in any burger anywhere else, like they add a sprinkle of a secret flavoring component at some point in the process--in fact, I'm sure that's exactly what they do.  But the Cheeseburger always seemed to fall a bit short, perhaps too much bread in relation to meat, making it a tad dry.  The McDouble fills that gap perfectly.  I saw a news program a few years back in which company executives were proudly describing the development of the McDouble as a compromise measure when the rising costs of cheese that had rendered the Double Cheeseburger and its two cheese slices too expensive to maintain as a profitable item.  Cost-benefit aside, I think that the McDouble is superior to the Double Cheeseburger, which is a little too cheesy.  In Korea, the McDouble was recently introduced as part of the new Happy Value Menu.  2,000 each.  I'll take two.

As shown in the photo above, the pair of McDoubles here came assembled with two bottom buns on one burger and two top buns on the other.  I actually liked the texture of the top-bun burger, being sensually smooth on either side.  

The McDouble contains exactly 1 calorie more than the Bulgogi Burger, really?

3.359 Roast Turkey and a Few Fixings

-Cycle 3, Item 359-
29 (Sat) December 2012

Roast Turkey and a Few Fixings


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife, Dominic, Ahn HY + Kim IT + JH, Choi SW, Hwang SE, Jeong D + Yong I, Kim KH, Lee HS +Yun YH, MtG + Noh SJ

This was my first attempt at roasting a whole turkey.  Unfortunately, I overcooked it--by several hours, by the look of it.  While aware of the general guidelines for cooking times--the bird was 12.8 lbs (5.8 kg), unstuffed, so 4 hours seemed about right--I was thrown off by the damn thermometer, a clunky analogue candy thermometer, which indicated a core temperature of barely above 100 F (38 C) at the 4-hour mark--it needed to reach 165 F (74 C).  When I got the same reading 30 minutes later, and again after another 30 minutes, I suspected a malfunction.  Just then, literally smacking myself in the forehead, I remembered purchasing a digital meat thermometer back in Hong Kong for this exact purpose (see 3.144 Linguine con Spinaci with Shrimp Scampi & Puree d'Epinards Simple in Tomato-Parmesan-Olive Sauce)--indeed, in anticipation of cooking this very bird.  That device registered 180 F (82 C) all over.  By that point, the breasts had become turkey jerky.

The turkey had come by way of an unexpected favor from reader Bob, proprietor of Fog City International Cafe in Incheon (see generally posts on Fog City International Cafe).  Amidst a running discussion in a comment thread about how ridiculously expensive turkey can be in Korea, he managed to acquire me one, apparently straight from a US military base commissary.  Delivering the turkey turned out to be a story in itself (see 3.098 Beef Burrito).  Although I did pay him for it, I can't recall the dollar amount on the price tag but do remember thinking that the figure was a fraction of what it would've cost here on the outside.  He said that getting me the turkey was a token of thanks for mentioning his restaurant on the blog.  No thanks were necessary.  If anything, I should be grateful.  Thanks, Bob!

I'd been waiting for a big group occasion, like my birthday, to share the big bird.  (Thanksgiving last month would've been perfect, of course, especially as P31bO/America, except that I don't celebrate Thanksgiving for political reasons.)  So long as I was at it, I also prepared a few side dishes, including mushrooms Bordelaise, cole slaw, broccoli scampi, garlic mashed potatoes, and stuffing, as well as pan gravy.  I invited the camping crew.  Despite the turkey--actually, the dark meat wasn't so bad, when drowned in potatoes and gravy--everyone seemed to enjoy the food.  Very little was left over.  The 4-star rating for this post reflects my impression of the complete meal, rather than just the turkey itself.