Charcuterie shops open up new world of meat: Long popular in the West, cured products have found new fans in Korea
But people are slowly opening up to other ways of consuming meat, such as cold cuts and cured meat paired with Western-style drinks like beer and wine, alongside slices of cheese and fruit.
Charcuterie, a collection of cold aged meats, is becoming a staple for some Koreans, and a handful of new stores specializing in it have opened up in the past year. The styles on offer at each shop are different depending on where you go: Maison Jo in Seocho District, southern Seoul, focuses on the French style, while the Salt House in Mapo District, western Seoul, goes for more eclectic options, like sandwiches.
“People who have experienced [cured meat] in cities around the world started to ask why Korea doesn’t have it,” said Lee Hae-rim, a freelance food columnist.
“Individuals who have honed their skills rose to the surface in the market and supplied their versions [of charcuterie] to match the demand, and that even inspired bigger companies to enter the scene, making it a [bigger industry].”
Since charcuterie remains relatively unfamiliar, many shop owners have taken a cautious approach and have made it possible to add cured meat into dishes people ordinarily enjoy in order to show that there are many different ways to enjoy meat outside of grilling. Using cured meat in sandwiches is the most common way, but the shops also offer grilled aged meat with vegetables and potatoes.
The following shops in Seoul are some of the city’s top purveyors in cured meats and each specialize in something different.
Although it originally intended to be a charcuterie shop, Maison Jo has become better known as a restaurant. The shop welcomes customers with a large showcase filled with different types of French-style charcuterie, including pate, terrine, ham and sausages.
Some of these products are served with different garnishes, and specialty parts like pig’s ear or intestines are available as well. Ordering a charcuterie board is also possible, and diners can simply tell the charcutier what they like and they will make a plate with enough choices for a party of any size. The charcutier, Jo Woo-ram, previously worked at Maison Verot and Louis Ospital in France, which are both known for their cured meat products. French wines that are hard to find in Korea can also be found here.
84 Nambusunhwan-ro 315-gil, Seocho District
This eatery has made it easier for everyday diners to learn about cured meat by using it in their sandwiches. Considering that eating cured meat alone is unfamiliar to some, the restaurant and shop serves sandwiches with different meats inside. For those who want to enjoy different cured meats separately can, of course, order a charcuterie board.
The Salt House has an international vibe, selling popular American, French and Italian sandwiches, such as Reuben and Pastrami as well as jambon fromage and meatballs. Sandwiches range from 12,000 won to 14,000 won ($10.70 to $12.50).
Take away sandwiches are sold with a 3,000 won discount, and many people use outside delivery services to get their food delivered to their homes and offices. A variety of natural wines, beer, whiskey and cocktails is available as well.
14 Worldcup-ro 19-gil, Mapo District
This shop focuses on a variety of items that have roots in Italian cooking. The owner Jo Sung-ha, who used to make different styles of ham in his spare time, opened the store about a year ago to introduce rare dishes to the neighborhood.
To help people get used to the concept of cured meat, he has added some flavors that are familiar to Koreans, such as doenjang, fermented soybean paste, to his salami. He also has sausages with Asian ingredients like sesame oil added. For picante sausage, which includes hot pepper, he uses Korea’s cheongyang pepper, which is small but known for its spiciness. Starting next month, the store will introduce products that use seasonal ingredients such as garlic leaves.
6-4 Yeonhui-ro 15an-gil, Seodaemun District
With smaller stores run by individuals interested in spreading the word about charcuterie to the public, a relatively larger company that has been distributing fresh and processed meat products has also jumped into the market.
S Food, which has been running John Cook Deli Meat since 2005, has opened a new shop and restaurant called The Charcuteria in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, to provide different ways to consume meat.
It has prepared an underground space called The Salami Museum to show how cured meat is preserved and aged to those who have not seen the process before.
Those who visit often will get to see how a white fungus starts to cover the meat as it ages, and the final product, which looks to be covered in white powder, is served upstairs at the restaurant. Products made in Korea with local meat as well as products imported from overseas are available.
Dry-cured sausages cost 790 won for every 10 grams and dry-cured hams start at 1,500 won for every 10 grams. A variety of cheeses including brie, parmigiano reggiano, manchego, mimolette, or comte are available by weight as well.
Salami cheese rolls and dried persimmons with nuts are popular menu items among those looking to get a multitude of flavors together at once.
86 Dokseodang-ro, Yongsan District
BY LEE SUN-MIN [email@example.com]