Korean cuisine #12 Saengseonhoe (Korean sashimi)
Saengseonhoe (Korean sashimi)
When speaking of hoe in Korea, it generally means saengseonhoe. Saengseonhoe is a food that is eaten by cutting meat or fish into raw pieces. It is eaten by dipping it in super red pepper paste, miso, soy sauce, or mustard. Saengseonhoe is a food that is always discussed along with pork belly when deciding the menu for a meeting. It is also a food that is often chosen as a hospitality food thanks to the idea of ‘high quality (expensive)’. It is erroneously known that saengseonhoe originated in Japan.
※ Yughoe is a food that is eaten raw by slicing the meat, liver, and cheonyeob (the manyplies) of cattle.
Hoe culture in Korea and Japan
origin of hoe
During the Goryeo Dynasty (918∼1392), Gyubo Lee also left such poems on the theme of hoe. “With red hoe as a snack / half a bottle of alcohol, I'm already drunk.” Mok of Goryeo horse said that Isaeg "catched a fish and saengseonhoeed finely like snow." In the early Joseon Dynasty, Seo Geo-jeong said, "The chubby crucian carp in the frosty riverside / White flesh is scattered by the swung knife / I don't know how to place chopsticks / The plate is empty soon".
In Japan, saengseonhoe is called sashimi. It is said that the original form of sashimi began in the Kamakura period (1180-1333, the period when the first aristocratic regime in Japanese history survived). Originally, it was an instant dish by fishermen who cut thinly sliced fish and eat it without cooking.
Since Japan is surrounded by sea on all four sides, it is easy to get seafood, and fish has become a major source of protein, thanks to the historical background of traditional meat-eating bans. Thanks to this, dishes made with fish were inevitably developed.
Among them, saengseonhoe was the foremost, but sashimi occupies an important position in the Japanese table so that when looking at the Japanese dinner dish, Gappo, you first decide what to use as saengseonhoe, and then choose steamed and grilled dishes according to it.
Although Korea boasts the largest consumption of saengseonhoe in the world, in Japan, the consumption of sushi is overwhelmingly higher than that of saengseonhoe. The consumption ratio of sashimi and sushi is about 8:2 in Korea, but the opposite is true in Japan. The consumption rate of sushi accounts for about 80% of the total saengseonhoe consumption market. Due to Japan's policy of globalization of sashimi, saengseonhoe has become synonymous with sashimi.
It's the same sashimi, but why did Korea and Japan have so different food cultures? There are three major ways to think about it. If you look at them one by one, first, it is the difference in fish species according to geographic characteristics. In Japan, because it faces the Pacific Ocean, migratory fish species such as tuna and yellowtail flock to it. Tuna and yellowtail are as expensive as their size. The problem is that these fish species die immediately from stress when they enter a small tank or similar place.
In order to maintain freshness before dying, it is to maintain freshness by killing and drawing blood. In the case of Korea, on the other hand, since the Japanese islands blocked the open sea, fish were mainly caught offshore rather than migratory fish species. Since it is a settled fish, it can extend its life enough even in a narrow tank. Thanks to this, it maintained its marketability as a live fish.
Second, it is fixed to saengseonhoe and sushi. As a recipe for fish delivered from the production area as live fish, Korea insisted on saengseonhoe, and Japan came to think of sushi. 80% of saengseonhoe consumption in Japan is sushi. In Korea, they wanted to make saengseonhoe with fresh live fish even if they die soon, so they have no choice but to stick to live fish.
Third, it is the difference in taste. Freshness is the most important thing in Korea when eating sashimi. The reason why freshness is considered like this is because the chewy and hard meat quality, that is, the texture, is considered first. Thanks to this, I became obsessed with live fish in Korea. On the other hand, in the case of Japan, they tend to like the sweet and melty taste, so they enjoy eating fresh fish using sushi. During the maturation period of 3 to 4 days, you will feel this appearance.
Because saengseonhoe and Namas use the same kanji, Japanese scholars say that the society came from Japan, but there are many corners that do not make sense. It is said that sashimi was introduced with the opening of Busan Port, but there was no reason to call it ‘sashimi’ because it was already the time to eat saengseonhoe. It is also a problem that the sashimi itself originated in China. Hoe (膾) is an ancient Chinese dish and refers to eating raw meat with seasonings.
Eating raw meat or fish began with the birth of mankind. Until the fire was dealt with, mankind lived on raw food. After discovering the fire, the custom of eating raw food remained or disappeared depending on the environment of each region. The culture of eating raw is hard to say who is the original.
In China, where the word hoe (膾) was born, the custom of eating raw food disappeared early due to side effects such as infectious diseases. Japan is an island country surrounded by the sea on all sides, and it is easy to get fresh seafood, so it can be said that the habit of eating raw fish and shellfish remains strong.
It would be pointless to argue for the origin of saengseonhoe and sashimi. Rather, knowing the cultural differences between Japan and Korea will help you enjoy saengseonhoe.