Tuesday, April 30, 2019

[Food] Yookhui (육회, Korean-Style Chopped Raw Beef)


[Food] Yookhui (육회, Korean-Style Chopped Raw Beef)

Yookhui with pine nuts and sesame

In my previous article about SamgyeopsalI said that Koreans have enjoyed eating meat for a long time as a staple diet -  whether beef, pork or chicken. Since the Mongolian invasion of the Korean peninsular, their food culture flowed into Koreans'. 

Mongolians used to hang raw meat (beef, lamb, horsemeat etc.) on their saddle when they went to war as a protein supply. This custom then became 'Tartar-steak' in Europe (Germany, France, Italy etc.), which later became the origin of today's Hamburger.

Tartar-steak with parsley and capers

Tartar-steak of a Spanish restaurant

Meanwhile, in Korea, the raw beef culture from Mongolia developed into something called 'Yookhui ('Yook' means meat and 'hui' means raw), chopped raw beef with chopped Korean pear, pine nuts, sesame and egg yolk.

Yookhui with the egg yolk, garlic, sesame, chopped Korean pear from Youngdeungpo, Seoul

According to classic Korean cuisine book, Koreans have been eating yookhui since the 1600s. It is written :

"Rump and beef thigh make the best yookhui. Chop the beef coarsely and add soy-sauce or salt, chopped garlic, spring onion, sesame oil and chopped Korean pear. Then finish it by sprinkling pine nut powder."

Another book provided a slightly different recipe for yookhui :

"Slice the beef very finely and put it into the water to get rid of its blood. Then dry its moist on hemp cloth, and marinate it with chopped garlic & spring onion, black pepper, sesame salt, sesame oil and honey. Add plenty of pine-nut powder"

To make fine yukhui, using good-quality Korean pears is as important as using good beef. Such Korean pears have a milky flesh, juice that tastes like honey and a crispy texture which goes very well with tender, juicy beef.

Korean pear
In the eastern region of Korea, people eat raw beef (rump) by adding salt and sesame oil instead of sauce or seasoning.

They say, 'This is the best way to enjoy beef and its unique flavor.' They call this 'yook-sashimi (sashimi means 'raw' in Japanese)' instead of 'yookhui'.

Mungtigi. Chopped raw rump steak. Famous dish in Daegu. Chewy and juicy flavor attracted meat-lovers in Korea, and made beef restaurants in Daegu so popular.

On the other hand, in the western region of Korea, people eat yookhui with rice as a form of 'bibimbap' with coarsely chopped vegetables and herbs. They are also so popular to Korean gourmet-lovers for their natural vegetable and beef flavor.

Yookhui bibmbap in Jinju

Yookhui bibmbap in Mokpo

If you were to ask me, 'which one is best?' then I would answer 'Taste them yourself, and choose your favourite raw beef dish.' I'm so sorry you can't find a Korean restaurant near your home or visit Korea, but you will come to know what I mean when you taste one of them someday :)

However, yookhui is not a very common orcheap dish in Korea because beef is not cheap, and Korean pear and pine nuts are expensive ingredients (so sad, isn't it?) Unlike the past, it is now a dish that you can usually see at an expensive buffet or beef-restaurant.

If you are sick of everyday steak, BBQ or grilled meat, how about trying some Korean yookhui? I'm so sure it will lead you into becoming a meat-lover :)

Bon Appétit!


  1. 肉のすしみたいですね。美味しそう

  2. ユッケが本当に美しそうです梨と一緒に食べてみたいです