September 20, 2021 08:09
Beef from prized Korean cows has long been a favorite present for Chuseok, which celebrates the harvest moon when the year's bounty is brought in.
Cows are of course essential for farming, both for their produce and as beasts of burden. In the old days, it was said that a cow has more power than eight people.
That also made them a favorite dowry, and farmers might sell some of their livestock to pay for their children's higher education. Now farming is mostly mechanized, but beef still retains its luster, especially if it comes from the small hanwoo breed that produces particularly fine meat.
There is a saying that one cow delivers a hundred different tastes. It was the American anthropologist Margaret Mead who noticed that the French and English "make 35 differentiations to the beef cuts... while [Koreans] differentiate beef cuts into a staggering 120 different parts."
Even in France, only 60 percent of a cow is considered fit for human consumption.
Officially, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety classifies beef into 10 large areas like sirloin, tenderloin and ribs and 39 smaller sections including short ribs and bottom round. But Koreans also eat the blood, tail and intestines, and even the hooves, grilled, steamed, boiled and raw.
At Chuseok, the prize cuts are ribs, sirloin and tenderloin. The all-time favorite is sirloin, which surrounds the ribs with its average fat content of only five percent and is known for its juiciness and tenderness, but the other cuts make equally fine eating.
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