Monday, November 26, 2007

Colourful Meat

My friend dr.sbdink recently asked me why there can sometimes be a rainbow-like sheen on raw meat or fish, whether "colourful" meat is safe to eat. I told him told him not to worry as it has something to do with the proteins oxidising-- I was right on the prescription, but wrong on the reason. Consulting Dr. Wolke's handy book, I found the right explanation.

Those colourful waves you see on raw meat are actually an optical illusion caused by the slicing process. When you cut across the muscle fibres-- myofilaments-- with a sharp knife, the tips of those fibres can play with light. The transluscent tips of the myofilaments-- through birefringence or diffraction (or both)-- cause light waves to interfere with each other, breaking up light into its component parts (i.e., the colours of the rainbow). Basically, it's the same reason you see "rainbows" through some crystals or on CD's. Note that this can only happen if the knife is sharp-- for the colours to appear, you need the surface and the myofilament tips to be fairly flat, not torn or squished by a dull knife.

So next time you see meat with a colourful sheen on the deli shelf, worry not-- it just means they sharpen their blades. But it's a totally different story if the colour on the meat is not a sheen but a solid greenish mass.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

우리 집 (Woorijib)

Woorijib (or Woorijip, as my koryophile Dear insists it should be transliterated) is a Korean restaurant along Kalayaan Avenue in Quezon City. Literally meaning "our house", the restaurant is a family-owned and operated enterprise which started just a few years back. Everytime my Dear and I go there (which is quite often), we see three generations of the family around the restaurant.

Ambience-wise, Woorijib is very homey, to put it nicely-- family members lounging and playing around, the tv set to Arirang or KBS, no strict dress code. So really, this won't be the place to impress your date with fine dining. But if your date likes good Korean food with matching good service (complete with call buttons), this is the place to go.

All tables are served with around six to eight different kinds of banchan (side dishes or appetizers) on the house, the most recognisable being kimchi. They usually just give you one or two servings of banchan, but if they recognise you as a regular (and you're extra nice to the family) the banchan will keep on flowing until you ask them to stop. You can also buy the kimchi for P120 per kilo, which unlike supermaket kimchi uses higher grade chili that is smoother on the palate (it also has a more orange tinge-- another sign of quality).

Our regular orders include mandujim (steamed dumplings, pictured above, P100) or gimbap (rice rolls, P200) for appetisers, stir-fried pork with kimchi and chili sauce (pictured right, P250) or ojingobokum (sauteed squid with vegetables in a spicy fermented chili sauce, P300) for the main course, and two cups of sicky purple rice (P40/cup). So for less than P500, you can have a very sumptuous dinner for two, even cheaper if you drop the appetisers and stick to the banchan. On occasion we've also tried their japchae (stir-fried potato noodles), some buckwheat noodle soup, kalbi chim (beef stew), and jajangmyeon (noodles in a fermented black soya bean sauce)-- all of which we liked except for the last (which is really an acquired taste).

Relatively more pricey fare we have tried include samgyeopsal (thinly-sliced pork grilled on the table served with greens, P500) and dakdooritang (chicken and vegetables stewed in fermented chili sauce, pictured left, P500). By the way, only the owner can cook the dakdooritang as this is her specialty, a fact we later learned when we were told that the waiters had to wake her up to cook our order. Now that's service.

Serving sizes are all very generous and the taste is authentic, judging by the number of Korean regulars. Service, I should say, is above par-- the owners even greet you out the door if they happen to be unoccupied as you leave. Bottomline, if you want to dine in Korean elegance served by waitresses in hanboks, do not go here. If you want good, authentic Korean food north of Makati, and don't mind hearing VJ Isak introduce the latest in the K-pop charts or seeing an occasional patron in sando and shorts, Woorijip is the place to go.