Saturday, August 17, 2013

Korean Groceries: Hamburg Steak and Meatballs

What is all of this stuff?
     When I think of Korean food, I always think about how much Gordon Ramsay would love it. It's fresh, vibrant, and seasonal. Those magic three adjectives that he loves to use when describing excellent food. Korea though, also has it's share of instant food for lazy people. For years I'd seen these things at the store but had never purchased them. All of that is about to change however, as I will boldly go and purchase strange and/or interesting products from the grocery store and consume them for your amusement, and for SCIENCE!

     I decided to start with Ottogi's three minute meatballs and hamburg steak. Which come in a box, and don't require refrigeration. I grabbed the steak first. After all, who doesn't like a good steak in a box?

The picture looks good...
     A hamburg steak is actually just a Salisbury steak but with a less fancy name. The box proclaims that is is made with Korean chicken as opposed to some dirty foreign chicken. Korean people believe that Korean meat is superior to foreign meat, and usually they are right, it's definitely fresher. Although, I'm sure that they use the same undesirable parts to be able to sell this for 1,550 won (about $1.20). And once something has been processed to this degree, freshness is really no longer an issue.

     According to the ingredient list chicken is the main ingredient, followed by onions, bread crumbs, eggs, and a bunch of other stuff that is probably chemicals or something. There are also two ways to cook this, boil in the bag, or "Eco Cook." Eco cook consists of putting the contents on a microwave safe dish and microwaving it for one minute. Since I'm all about saving the environment, I'm going to "Eco Cook" it.

     Hey, my steak in a box is actually a steak in a bag! Notice the expiration date: November, 2014 (Post originally published on Dumb in Daegu on 8/17/13) . These things are basically civilian MREs. It makes you wonder if the Korean government played a hand (they used to be notorious for interfering in how companies operated) having these made to insure that there wouldn't be food shortages in the event of war with the North.

I call this photo "The Birth of The Steak"

 Mmmm, just like the picture on the box! The way the steak slid out of the bag and plopped on the plate was quite unappetizing, but there was no way I was going to back down. Next step, ECO COOK!

     It actually looks worse now. The gravy has separated and the edges of the steak are black? I actually only eco cooked it for 50 seconds due to the amount of sizzling and popping going on in my eco cooker. Oh well, time to dig in.

     The knife was just for ambiance as the the steak was so soft I could have cut it with a playing card. In fact, I didn't even need to chew it. I just mashed it against the roof of my mouth with my tongue. I don't think you should be able to eat steak like that. As for the taste, it was surprisingly not bad. I've had worse meatloaf, which was exactly what a tasted like: meatloaf. All in all, I can't complain seeing as how cheap it was. Next stop, meatballs!

     The meatball packaging is identical to the hamburg steak's packaging, all the way down to the ingredient list. The only thing that's really different is the weight/calories and the picture. If I get less than ten meatballs in my pouch then I'll declare false advertising.

This is the first time I've seen something like this on a plate.
     Wow, the resemblance to the picture is uncanny. One, two, three... Thirteen meaballs! What a deal! For 1,550 won (same price as the steak) I was not even expecting the ten that were on the picture. The meatballs look decidedly more unappetizing though. What you can't see in the picture is me glancing at my cat and then glancing at the meatballs and trying to put assumptions about the taste out of my head.

   I thought that I should spread them out so that they would eco cook more evenly, this proved to be an aesthetic mistake however. After I eco cooked them, I popped one into my mouth and found that my instincts were right. The meatballs are just a differently shaped hamburg steak. Same taste and same roof-mouth-mashing texture. If you factor in the price though, the meatballs are actually the better buy since they are 150 grams compared to the steak's 140 grams.

     Well I've finally satisfied one of my curiosities. I now know what I was missing out on for all those years, which wasn't much. As DumbTwo said, "I can't believe you ate that." Well, neither can I, neither can I...

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