Korean sausage, or sundae (순대, pronounced soon-day), is still a thing to avoid for many of my foreigner or even Korean friends alike. For these people, the unique smell or the mushy texture of stuffing wrapped in gummy intestine is just not so appealing. It took years for my sister to finally learn to enjoy the Korean delicacy but my mother still cannot stand the smell. Whatever the case is, I do not blame those who cannot make themselves to like sundae. Everyone has different tastebuds. I am just glad that I can excuse myself to travel around the country to try so many different variations of one of my favourite Korean foods.
Baegam-myun in the city of Yong-in has long history of Korean sausages. The village opened up a traditional marketplace every five days since the Japanese colonization period. The merchant sold various goodies but what was prominent was the meat; beef and pork to be exact. According to the province’s tourism website, the area has been known for beef vendors and slaughterhouses. Naturally, the chefs cooked up Korean sausages and made pork-broth soups to serve the hungry merchants and patrons.
Since Yong-in is quite close to Seoul (just south of the capital city), the Seoulites are more familiar with Baegam-style sundae in which became popular with the help of the merchants traveling and promoting all over the country. For someone like myself who is from central South Korea, Byeongcheon-style sundae from Chungcheong province was more common as I grew up in Daejeon.
The initial difference I saw in Baegam sundae was the colour of the sausage. It is pale. Ivory in colour. The inside is also stuffed with not only the meat but lots of vegetables–especially cabbage. I felt that the abundance of veggies enhanced the flavour and overall texture of sundae. It seems that even those people who cannot have sundae might be able to enjoy this one.
The soup had strong flavour of pork broth, but it wasn’t too overwhelming at the same time. The broth tasted quite like beef bone broth in which it had that in-depth flavour from boiling the meat and bones for long hours. Overall, I would recommend the Baegam sausages and soup to foreigners or first-timers. I like that the flavour is not too overpowering in general.
In the little village of Baegam-myun, there are small alleys of sundae restaurants forming their own “sundae town”. I know that most of my visiting friends cannot afford to travel around Korea like I do. But the Korean sausage they get to taste while in Korea is most likely one of those cheap, franchise stuff made out of a factory and frozen for some time. Things like that could never taste good. If you are ambitious enough to try the real stuff, take the intercity bus down to Baegam. The sundae restaurants are just right by the terminal.