4.214 Grilled Galbi Taste Test: Korean vs. American Beef

-Cycle 4, Item 214-
7 (Wed) August 2013

Grilled Galbi Taste Test: Korean vs. American Beef


at Samwon Garden

-Sinsa, Seoul-

with Wife, Dominic, Folks, cousin Tara

Samwon Garden, one of our favorite restaurants (see generally 4.053 Mul Naeng Myeon).

In the blog's first post on galbi, at this same restaurant, I noted how expensive Korean beef is in relation to American beef and proposed conducting a taste test to determine whether the price differential were warranted.  So here it is.

The test went as follows.  1 order of Korean beef ("hanwoo") and 1 order of American beef were cooked side-by-side on the same grill over the same heat to medium rare.  Removing the ribs simultaneously onto separate plates, the meat was cut into bite-sized pieces.  The plates, marked only so that I could identify them, were passed around the table.  The tasting panel comprised my parents, Wife, Dominic, my cousin Tara, and later myself.  Each person tasted a piece of meat from one plate at random followed immediately by a piece from the other.  I was given the pieces on forks, skewered out of sight.  Time constraints--my father getting ornery because of all the tomfoolery--prevented anything elaborate.   Everyone stated a preference, if any.  

Korean beef: 55,000 won, 150 grams (36,667 won per 100 g)

 American beef: 39,000 won, 160 grams (24,375 won per 100 g) (photo shows 3 orders)

The winner: NEITHER.  Other than my mother, who confidently if mistakenly declared the Korean beef to be American because it supposedly had a distinct off odor, nobody else noted any difference between the two.  I too found the two pieces identical.  Perhaps under controlled circumstances, with repeat samplings, as well as palate cleansing in between, and extended intervals to chew and evaluate, some subtle variances could be detected.  But as it was, the two pieces seemed to exhibit the same flavor--same marinade, of course, which would have a significant equalizing effect--neither more nor less beefy, or off, despite my mother's claim, and they seemed comparably tender.  The Korean beef, just as good, not better yet priced 50% higher than the American beef, was therefore not worth the extra money.  This would probably hold true in any case involving top quality meat in marinade.

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