Korean Eating: Jangeo is a Summer Staple
Jangeo (장어), or eel, is one of the top three dishes to eat in Korea on the hottest of days in the summer, but it’s just as good any other day of the year as well.
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Here in Seoul, jangeo-gui (장어구이), is most often served after it has been de-boned and sliced down the center and marinated in a mixture of sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce and sugar. Another option is to have the eel served without any marinade and just add a dash of salt while it’s cooking on the grill in the center of the table. If you head to a coastal town, it is even possible to get the eel while it’s fresh and moving. The restaurants with fresh eel will be noisy with the sounds of nails being hammered through the eels’ head so that the cook can slice the eel open down the center before it is brought over to be grilled in the center of the table. The grill on the table is a bit more lively with moving eel bits to add a little excitement to the meal and then it’s best eaten with just a dash of salt and a dip in the provided soy sauce.
The table is usually set with lettuce leaves to wrap the eel in and ginger to top it off before eating with a bit of soy sauce to taste. Other side dishes will be provided as they usually are in Korea and rice can be ordered separately, but the eel, the staple of the meal, should not be overloaded too much. With just a bit of salt and ginger, the eel is perfect for any meal… though Koreans most often associate this squiggly jiggly sea creature with summer.
Eel is rich in vitamin A and E and stimulates blood circulation and prevents aging and wrinkling. It is most popular with men in Korea as it is believed to be an aphrodisiac and good for stamina, but here everyone eats it. Don’t miss out this summer. Find an eel restaurant near you!