Don’t be caught unaware when you tag along a drinking crew and you end up with pigs feet in front of you. Pigs feet, trotters or hock is a sought-after delicacy called jokbal (족발). It goes well with soju and the high collagen content will give your skin a boost.
There must be humor among the food gods. How can you turn a derided portion of pork into a go-to culinary dish? Jokbal is a soft, chewy pork experience that has hints of cinnamon or other special spices used to eliminate any pork odor. It’s slow cooked with care. And the normally disrespected cut of meat demands a very respectful price among fans.
If you start with a skeptical stomach and find that you’re eating something uncommonly delicious, then you have found a good jokbal restaurant.
However here’s the most important tip: ORDER THE FRONT LEGS
The front legs have more flesh and is easier to eat. There’s less chance of a gamey smell and it has a savory taste that you at first think is all fat, but turns out it’s collagen. The front legs are little bit more expensive and they tend to run out first. Usually jokbal restaurants have a capacity of how much jokbal they can prepare so make sure to call ahead and ask if they have front legs.
You can eat it on its own. Or dip it in the shrimp based sauce meant to add saltiness. Or as you will see is the standard method: wrap it inside a lettuce leaf, dab some samjang (an addictive mixture of red pepper paste and soybean paste) and start munching. Rookies will add too much and have to test the elasticity of their chipmunk cheeks and try not to choke.
make sure to order the front legs
You will probably be invited to take shots of soju or drink boilermakers as you eat jokbal. Thank goodness for the collagen content to slow the absorption of alcohol. But oftentimes it makes no difference. It’s a dish best eaten hot from the kitchen. As it cools it starts to resemble and taste like more and more of what it really is: pigs feet. Eat before the carriage turns back into a pumpkin.