52. Black Goat Casserole at Mirak
Goat is GOAT
Photo by The Mexican
We're reaching the halfway point of 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!
Recently, I revisited Mirak in Fullerton with my brother-in-law, and he loved their black goat casserole as much as I did. So let's revisit what I wrote way back when in 2011, shall we?
Goat occupies a special place in Korean culture, a dish not as prevalent as beef or chicken, usually offered only at restaurants that specialize in the ungulate and consumed mostly for its health benefits. And it's always capra hircus coreanae, the country's sole indigenous goat breed, a tiny guy with gamy flavor that radiates from its soft, stringy flesh. Most of the eaters at Mirak get it one of two ways: as a stew, or in an angry casserole that crisps the meat the longer it stays. The stew is brought to your table, bubbling and fierce, covered with a jungle of sesame leaves. It's a funky, stinky, glorious mess, ideal for the winter--but that goat casserole is better, joined by sesame leaves, green and white onions, and jalapeños, all of which eventually caramelize into sweet, pungent perfection. The meat--chopped finely into tendrils, with pieces of chewy goat skin and fat left intact--is like a more powerful birria, something begging to get washed down with Hite beer. A galaxy of panchan circles both orders, alongside a condiment you dip your goat into that's part chili paste, part whole pepper, part mustard seeds and all crackling heat.
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