What is soondae? The word looks an awful lot like sundae (it’s even commonly transliterated this way), but I can guarantee that most people would be fairly shocked to receive a plate full of plump sausages filled with blood and pig’s snout, rather than the sweet, frozen treat of their dreams. Soondae is a traditional Korean blood sausage similar to black pudding, though the starchy filler used is glutinous (sweet) rice. It’s a true sausage in that it is stuffed inside a casing much like morcilla or boudin noir. The texture is amazing, folks. It’s light, chewy, bouncy – quite reminiscent of mochi due to the sticky rice and pork snouts. It’s something you can become addicted to far too easily..
It is quite different in that it does not use raw blood as a base, but blood sausage stuffing, or blood pudding. (that you purchased or made yourself, we’ll be posting a recipe for blood sausage soon.)
In any case, this was quite a find. This terrine is wonderfully creamy, while firm, and packed full of flavor. It makes a wonderful breakfast or a lovely appetizer.
Blood as food? I think it’s safe to assume that most wouldn’t consider such a statement an even remotely pleasant idea. People are, in general, deeply squeamish about the thought of blood itself, never mind actually coming in contact with or consuming the conspicuous liquid. While there are certainly natural motivating factors behind being reluctant about or repelled by blood, the most pervasive culprit for this inclination has a lot to do with shifting cultural biases & trends.
In many parts of the world, blood is still widely consumed on a regular basis & inherently worked into the ritual of slaughter itself. Not only does it provide an important nutritional role within the diet, it also makes up a good portion of the total yield of an animal. There can be forty liters of blood in one cow alone, just to bring things into perspective. Wasting such a large portion of an animal is not only ridiculous, but simply out of the question for a good number of people. Many can’t afford to be so far removed from their food, or to cherry-pick what parts they’d prefer to utilize for their meals. Necessity aside, however, nose to tail eating is actually a more reasonable & sustainable practice to be mindful of.
Beloved in one culture, abhorred in another, blood makes for a fascinating, if polarizing ingredient. Though I find its dubiousness to be questionable if handled with care, it does have a high rate of spoilage, a huge mess factor, & reacts quite finicky when introduced to heat. Still, it can be a beautifully versatile ingredient, as long as it’s basic nature is kept in mind. Blood is traditionally used as a thickener in sauces, a binder in sausages & terrines, a minerally pungent kick to both savory and sweet dishes alike. If the metallic twang sounds off putting, try pairing it with spices, cream, fruits, even chocolate.
For as long as humans and their ancestors have hunted animals & eaten meat, they’ve utilized blood for both comestible means & basic nutritional needs. Although it’s fallen out of fashion in recent times, evidence of blood usage in culinary applications can still be found by those who are willing, curious, & open-minded enough to dig a bit deeper & entertain new possibilities. In this section, we at The Red Cellar will attempt to celebrate this grossly overlooked and underutilized ingredient &, with luck, perhaps ease some of the stigma it seems to carry.