Nasty Bits: Korean Blood Sausage

"It's one of the better things I've stuffed into an intestinal casing."


[Photographs: Chichi Wang]

There hasn't been much discussion of blood on this column because it's just so hard to find a reliable source for fresh blood. But then it occurred to me that blood sausage might be a good thing to discuss. Making it delicious requires very little work: just brown the sausage in a pan and serve it with potatoes, apples, or anything that complements the slightly liverish, iron-rich taste of blood.

The kind of blood sausage we're most accustomed to in the U.S. is boudin noir—that creamy emulsion of blood and fat, heavily spiced, with ground meat in the mixture. Boudin noir is probably my favorite kind of blood sausage because of its creaminess and richness. But recently I've been eating a lot of Korean blood sausage, or soondae, and have been quite taken with its texture.

Soondae can be made with squid and other protein-rich ingredients, but in its most popular form, it's made by mixing pork blood with cellophane noodles and glutinous rice. (Barley, fermented soybean paste, kimchi, soybean sprouts, and perilla leaves crop up in regional variations of the sausage too.) The mixture makes for a dense, slightly gummy body. If you like chewy, mochi-textured things and blood, then you'll probably like soondae.

The taste of the sausage is mild but it's enlivened with salt, sugar, chili powder, sesame seeds, and dried and ground shrimp. The taste of the blood comes through beautifully. It's one of the better things I've stuffed into an intestinal casing.

You'll find soondae at Korean markets in the prepared foods section. If it's freshly made and unrefrigerated, it's good to eat as is, but once the sausage has been refrigerated, the segments become more rigid and less pleasing to chew.

To return the soondae back to its former state of glutinous tenderness, add it to a soup and stew, or pan-fry it to get a crispy surface and tender interior. When soondae is added to soups, the noodles and rice in the casing absorbs the broth so that each bite is juicy and flavorful, with the blood presence still strong. If you crisp soondae in a pan with a little oil, the surface starts resembling crispy rice cakes and the interior will be soft and tender.