Seoul, South Korea – Mapo Galmaegi Mealtimes

In South Korea sometimes finding something to eat isn’t the easiest thing to do. At first glance, Korean food can look scary but don’t fear… One of my favourite things about South Korea is the dining out culture, it’s the best time to meet up with your friends and have a great time. Each district has its own popular dish, so no matter which part of Seoul you’re in you can find some authentic cuisine. I’m here to talk to you about Mapo Galmaegi, you guessed it; from Mapo!

Mapo Galmaegi is available throughout the whole Mapo-gu district, however my favourite places to go to are in Mapo-Dong itself. There is a whole street of Korean style restaurants serving up some fine Galmaegi. Once you’ve taken your pick you’ll be seated at a table with a hole in the middle where hot coals are placed with a grill plate on top. After ordering you’ll receive a plate of raw pork (don’t be put off, it’s delicious!) The pork is perfectly marinated with garlic and various other spices. Alongside pork you’ll get banchan (side dishes) such as; kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), ssamjang (a dipping sauce), some leaves, lettuce and chillies.

When the grill plate is hot, place about half of the pork on top. We usually start with the meat at the top of the grill plate and move it to the edges once it’s cooked so it doesn’t burn. By this time you’ve probably noticed that there is a rim around the edge of the grill plate with a little oil in it and this is where you put egg. Before the egg cooks put in some kimchi (trust me), this is how the Koreans do it! I know it doesn’t sound like scrambled egg and kimchi would go together, but they do – it’s my favourite part of the meal! Once all is cooked grab a lettuce leaf and place a piece of pork with some ssamjang and egg, wrap up, eat and enjoy!

Traditionally galmaegi is eaten in winter, because Korean winters are so cold it’s fun to warm up your hands over the grill! This being said, most people eat it all year round. Don’t worry about there being a language barrier, there will be somebody who can understand English in most restaurants!

Did I forget to mention how well this dish goes with beer?…

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