Strange Korean Foods: Pig Guts Soup

Having spent the last half decade in Korea you can believe I’ve eaten my fair share of strange Korean foods. Live octopus? Yup. Penis fish? You bet. Pickled jellyfish? A personal fave. These are all fine examples of strange Korean foods and worth a try if you find yourself in the Land of Morning Calm. Sure, they may not be as accessible as, say, pizza or a hamburger, but they’re a whole hell of a lot more interesting! If you’re in the mood for a more adventurous meal let me recommend one of my favorite strange Korean foods.

Strange Korean Foods: Pig Guts Soup

Even if you know next to nothing about Korean food chances are you’ve heard of kimchi and Korean barbecue. Both are deserving of their stellar reputations and a definite treat for the taste buds. Korean barbecue in particular is a favorite: Think meaty cuts of pig that hover somewhere between pork chops and bacon in taste and consistency grilled right at your table. My meat and potatoes loving heart skipped a beat just thinking about it. But once you’ve butchered a pig for barbecuing there’s still a lot of meat leftover. From the hooves to Wilbur’s inner-workings, you’ve got plenty of good eating yet to do. Koreans like to make the most of every pig they butcher and nowhere is that more evident than in a bowl of pig guts soup (냉정머리국밥). When you dig into this strange Korean food you’ll find all manner of pig intestine, liver, and bits of pork. It is quite literally a bowl of pig guts.
Strange Korean Foods

Yep. That’s intestines.

The flavor is much milder than you’d probably imagine, although every time I’ve enjoyed this dish there is the faintest aftertaste of manure. Nothing pronounced, mind you, but unmistakably there. I suppose that’s to be expected. I mean, you are after all eating a pig’s digestive track. Like a lot of Korean cuisine you have the option of spicing up pig guts soup with red pepper paste. A glob of this ubiquitous condiment gives the dish some kick and helps to conceal the aftertaste.

A Piggy’s Tale

Traditionally, pig guts soup was a favorite with peasants, farmers, and laborers. Y’know, the 99%. And that makes sense: We aren’t exactly dealing in the choicest of cuts with this meal. Pork tenderloin it ain’t. And this plebeian history tends to be reflected in the clientele gobbling up pig guts soup today. A typical restaurant serving the stuff will offer a nice cross-section of low-income Korean society: broke-ass college students, gritty blue collar types, cab drivers, and the occasional upper-crust slumming with us commoners. A bowl of pig guts soup will run you about 6,000 won at most restaurants. You won’t need to break the piggy bank to enjoy it. In addition to a nice price, this strange Korean food has the added benefit of keeping you full. Maybe it’s just the cognitive dissonance my guts have to go through in order to digest their own kind, but after a bowl of the stuff I’m set for hours.

Pass the Pig Guts Soup

If you’re up for this culinary adventure pig guts soup is easy to find throughout Korea. Just look for “냉정머리국밥” on the menu and prepare for the local’s eyes to bug when you place your order. In my experience, the dingier the restaurant looks the more delectable the dishes tend to be. So find yourself a dive and dig in! Did you find this strange Korean food appetizing? Would you care to pass the pig gut soup? Just hit one of the icons below. Thanks!   Continue Reading