Sashimi, Korean-Style: Hwe at Dadami

What's pictured in the video above has several things in common with what's offered at Dadami, the subject of this week's cafe review: green perilla (or shiso) leaves, red gojuchang sauce, dark brown soy sauce, a bowl of minced garlic and chiles and -- of course -- super-fresh sashimi, or raw fish. You'll also see the correct way to eat Korean sashimi, or hwe, illustrated above.

And if it all looks a little familiar, that's because hwe isn't all that different from Japanese cuisine -- indeed, Dadami bills itself as a sushi restaurant. After all, South Korea and Japan are only separated by a narrow, 120-mile-wide stretch of water called the Korea Strait. It should come as no surprise that their raw fish preparations are similar and that there are overlaps in other dishes, such as the tempura-battered squid and miso soup (which, true to Korean tastes, has a spicy kick to it) found on Korean restaurant menus which specialize in hwe.

Thanks to a good spread of banchan like kimchi and seaweed salad between main courses such as whole fried fish and fried rice topped with a raw egg that cooks as you stir it in, a dinner of hwe can go on for hours. And at places like Dadami, the crowning point of that meal is very often a dish of live octopus.

I'm chagrined to admit that I have yet to enjoy the live octopus at Dadami for myself. During my first visit, we thought that we'd ordered it (ah, language barriers) but found out at the end of our three-hour meal that we had not. Either way, we were too full to even contemplate ordering more food.

And somehow, eating live octopus during a sleepy Tuesday lunch the following week didn't seem like the best time to experience such a dish. No, I wanted to wait until I was surrounded by friends again, as with that first dinner -- friends who would either try the octopus with me or, at the very least, videotape me eating it. So I stuck with the sashimi salad that day.

But judging from the video above, I need to get back into Dadami soon -- and bring my fastest octopus-grabbing reflexes with me. Who's coming?

Read more about Dadami in this week's cafe review.

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