What Is This Condiment I Was Served At A Korean BBQ?

I was eating at a Korean barbecue with some business associates in Tokyo (apparently KBBQ is very popular there).

Among the things we grilled was tongue. Nice. The hostess brought out two special condiments (I think they were meant to be specific to the tongue and not the other meats). One was a little dish of sauce, which I think was a combination of lemon and sesame oil or something.

The other was a shredded vegetable looking substance (whitish green, finely chopped). They told us to eat it with the cooked tongue and dip in the lemon sauce.

Language barriers prevented me from figuring out what the shredded veg. was. Our hostess had forgotten the Japanese word for it, but said she had heard Australians refer to it as “leesh.” I asked her if she meant “leeks” but she insisted they’d spelled it for her, and it was “leesh.”

Whatever. Are there any proprietors, students, or habitues of Korean barbecue (as served in Japan) who can enlighten me on this “leesh” and what it is? If not, I will fall back on assuming it is something like shredded scallion as oriental cuisine seems fond of scallions, but I’d like to know for sure.

Maybe you are referring to Kimchi?

Nope, it was more “dry,” much more finely shredded (think the consistency of shredded carrots in a salad), and whitish/green, with no orangey sauce like you usually get with kimchee. And, it was in a very small, condiment sized bowl, with only about a half ounce of the shredded veg., as opposed to usually-larger kimchee portions.

Did it look like thinly sliced leeks? If so it’s a shiro-negi (“white onion”, except it’s not the same as American white onion). My Japanese-English dictionary defines it as a Welsh onion, but I’m not sure how close that is. I’m sure you can find it in Asian markets in the US.

Welsh Onions (if that’s what they are) are a bit like leeks, a bit like spring onions(scallions), but not really like either; also known as ‘bunching’ onions, they form a clump of stalks, rather than single large bulbs; they are more fleshy and substantial than spring onions, but they are not as fibrous or coarse as leeks.

If it was “dry” as you said and white, could it have been jullienned Daikon (japanese name)-a large, white radish?

Eh, sounds like cabbage to me. At least, that’s what we eat with our donkatsu. I think it’s cabbage… I’ll have to check with my mom on that one. Of course, donkatsu is a Japanese dish that is also eaten in Korea, so it could be something that’s actually Japanese and not Korean at all. As for the other sauce… lemon and sesame oil? I’m not sure what that would be.

Thanks – I thought about that, but it was a bit green as well as white, and daikon I’ve seen is usually white (??). Also, it seemed to have some taste, which IME daikon really doesn’t much.

Did it taste like chicken?

Fortunately, no. I’ve intentionally avoided the temptation to tie in the client’s insistence that we were eating what sounded like “leash” at a Korean restaurant (what, the former user isn’t using his leash anymore so you shred it and serve it as garnish with him?).

Korean BBQ in JP has its hairy moments, as in the last time when we were offered pig uterus, beef colon, and then (unbelievably, because how could there be anything left after you’d scraped the bottom of the barrel that way?), “offal.”

Daikon can be green. But I wouldn’t describe it as dry - it’s usually very juicy. And daikon is usually ground, not shredded, when used as a condiment. (It is shredded when used in a salad.) If it was fibrous, like scallions, I’m pretty sure it was Welsh onions.

BTW the “lemon” sauce is called ponzu - made from Japanese bitter orange. You can buy it with soy sauce and flavoring already mixed in.

I went to Japan on business, and the wife and kids joined me so we could visit my in-laws, who live in Tokyo. We went to Korea-town for a slap-up dinner. Being the Gaijin that I am, my role was to be the victim in the “let’s-make-the-foreigner-eat-stuff-even-we-won’t-eat” game.

The first dish came. It was white and of evident animal origin, smothered in chili sauce. Everyone watched as I helped myself to what was, apparently, an inner-tube smothered in napalm.

“Yum” I pantomimed. “Delicious. What the fuck was that, exactly?” (I could get away with this, becuase the kids weren’t with us and nobody but my wife spoke English). My wife conferred with her sister and reported back: “Large intestine.”
Fine, fine…I’ve had worse.
Long story short, the game continued through the pigs-feet in chili sauce, deep fried minced esophagus (in chili sauce), and a variety of organ meats typically known as “offal.” In chili sauce. After each meal, my wife and her sister would announce what I had just eaten with barely-supressed glee.

Finally, the piece-de-resistance…It was indistinguishable from everything else, and tasted the same; rubbery, tasteless (except for just the slightest hint of chili), and looking more like it came from the highway department than a reputable butcher.

“OK, ok…I give, what was that tender little morsel?” I asked, since outside of bones, horns, tail, sphincter-and of course, say, meat- I think we had accounted for every other part of a cow possible.

My wife asked her sister (in Japanese). When she responded, instead of relaying the answer, my wife asked her sister another question. Another answer, and another question. Then some spirited arguing.

“What?! What???” I asked…“what…did…they…just…make…me…eat?” I asked with not a little alarm.

My wife turned and said “She won’t tell me.”

Small intestines washed, boiled, fried (known as Tripas in Mexico and places in the US with Mexican populations) is some excellent food. Unfortunately “Mad Cow” has made the consumption of this ‘organ meat’ in the US illegal. If you hate the taste of liver though, you might not care for it.

Wait a minute, though. My impression was that “tripas” was tripe, which is the stomach lining, right, not the small intestine? Or am I wrong? In any event (and I have eaten chitlins, which I might or might not do again – pig small intestines), “colon” is the large intestine, and while it’s possibly a distinction without a difference, I guess I get more and more squeamish as you go down the digestive tract and the stuff that is passing through is less like “mushed up food” and more like . . . “crap.”

Tripas can refer to stomach lining or intestine, and in Mexican and Latin American cooking usually refers to beef tripe or intestine, because pig intestines are usually reserved for sausage casing (or at least they were when my Abuela was alive and had anything to say about it.) ** Unregistered Bull**, can I get a cite for the prohibition of beef intestine under mad cow regs? First I’d heard of it.