Korean Eating: A Pigs Feet Picnic 족발

Pigs Feet Picnic

Pigs Feet PicnicPigs feet, or jokbal (족발), boils away for hours in a stock made of water, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, rice wine, and maybe a secret ingredient depending on where it’s from, before it’s sliced up and served to those eaters looking for something meaty, fatty and extremely mouth watering. I had seen pigs feet before, on a drive south from Ohio to Florida and I remember the jar the pigs feet floated in sitting on a shelf in a convenience store vividly, but it wasn’t until coming to Korea that I actually gave the trotters a try. Of course the style in which this dish is prepared in countries far apart is different, but now I’d be much more open to trying it back home.

Yesterday the skies were blue the air was warm and it seemed like a perfect day for a picnic on the grassy banks of the Han River. On the way, we stopped by our local Mangwon Farmers Market to pick up a helping of pigs feet to savor for dinner. As an aside, heading to your local market the day before Chuseok vacation, the Korean Thanksgiving, is not advisable. We pressed our way through the crowds of people stocking up on vegetables and meat for the holidays and grabbed our medium sized dish of trotters for W17,000 to go.

Pigs Feet Picnic

Pigs Feet Picnic

Korean style pigs feet is served with lettuce to wrap them in and three dipping sauces. Of the three, the most important sauce is the saeujeot (새우젓) a salty condiment made with tiny fermented shrimp. Saeu means shrimp and jeot stands for any salty fermented condiment used for pickling or as a seasoning. The shrimp are usually salted and fermented for 2 to 3 months before being served up with dishes like pigs feet or bossam. Another sauce often served with pigs feet is chojang (초장), a sweet and spicy red chili pepper sauce. This sauce is commonly seen with Korean style sashimi, or hue, and is made by taking gochujang (고추장, red pepper paste), and adding vinegar and sugar. The third sauce is the standard ssamjang (쌈장) a spicy red sauce often seen on tables while grilling up delicious cuts of meat. Saamjang is made with gochujang, doenjang (듼장, fermented bean paste), sesame oil, onion, garlic and brown sugar.

Pigs Feet PicnicKoreans often drink soju or beer while enjoying this oily dish, but not to worry, it’s not as unhealthy as you think. I’ve heard it claimed that pigs feet is healthy for the skin and prevents wrinkles as well as prevents hangovers.  If you believe that, then it’s the perfect dish for a night out, a picnic on the Han or a simple dinner at home and if at all possible round out the meal with a little song and dance to Billie Holiday’s “Gimmie a Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer”.

…And at the break of day you can hear ole Hammer say

Gimme a pigfoot and a bottle of beer, send me a gate I don’t care

feel just like I wanna clown.

Give the piano player a drink because he’s bringing me down.

He’s got rhythm yeah, when he stomps his feet.

He sends me right off to sleep.

Check all your razors and all your guns,

We’re gonna be arrested when the wagon comes.

Gimme a pigfoot and a bottle of beer…

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  1. March 23, 2015

    […] all worth the bite. My husband and I have been known to stop by the market and get some jokbal, or pigs feet, to go. You can easily grab some food and then head out to the scenic Han River for a little […]

  2. April 27, 2015

    […] I tried pigs feet much earlier than the chicken counterpart. For some reason pigs feet didn’t seem so far fetched and they didn’t look nearly as spicy at first glance. I remember a glimpse of pigs feet in a pickling jar on a shelf in a convenience store when I was in  car driving from Ohio to Florida one time with my family when I was young and so for that reason, it seemed not unnatural to eat the things I guess. That being said, I never once saw them in Ohio and don’t know anyone that has eaten them but, if someone in the States was eating them, southerners, then why not? In Korea, the trotters aren’t pickled like the American version, instead they are braised in soy sauce, garlic, ginger and rice wine. Also joined on the table with a couple of bottles of soju and a dipping sauce made of fermented shrimp called saeujeot 세우젓. Either just dipped in the sauce and into the mouth it goes or the slices can be dipped in the sauce, wrapped in a piece of lettuce and topped with some nearby garnishes to make for a filling meal. Restaurants that sell this dish can be found all over the place. One of our favorite spots to get some are at Mangwon Market where they will package it to go making it the perfect meal to grab before heading to the Han River for a picnic. […]

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