It had been a long day but having finished dinner around 10pm there was still one more activity prior to calling it a day. It was time to eat some some petrol baked clams.
Petrol baked clams are exactly as the name suggests – clams cooked in petrol via a barbeque (bbq) process.
Given that bbq business is man’s business in North Korea it was time for our main (female) guide to step aside and let our bus driver and our male guides take over.
No Weber or other propriety branded bbqs here. The bus driver arrived with two manhole covers that were to serve as bbq plates. The plates were raised slightly off the ground and then covered in clams, tightly packed, opening side down, in such a way that they would not open wide on cooking – you will realise why this is important if you read on.
Clams so arranged, petrol was doused on them from a plastic bottle and the whole thing set alight.
As the flames weakened more petrol was added and so the process continued until our ‘chef’ adjudged the clams cooked after about five minutes. All this cooking was done outside our villa at the Ryonggang Hot Spring House and under the headlights of our bus and with torches as there didn’t appear to be any outside lights to switch on, or maybe the power was off again – I can’t recall which.
Ensuring that the clams didn’t open (upwards) while cooking was important for two reasons. One so that the clam meat did not catch light and get burnt to a cinder and two, to ensure that they didn’t fill up with, and taste of, petrol. Despite the care taken I was sure they would taste of petrol.
I reckon I had about 20 clams, washed down with soju (distilled rice liquor) and vodka, and they were delicious. I didn’t detect the taste of petrol once though one or two others did. I think the petrol tasting ones (and there were very few – our chef was an expert) were from the outside where, presumably, the petrol did not fully burn off before the flame extinguished.
This delicacy, over and above our included food fare, came with the price tag of 5 euro per person, a bargain.
I recommend my reader refrains from petrol-baking of any kind except if under the supervision of an experienced North Korean!
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on my trip to Nampo, North Korea. I suggest you continue with my next entry – And all they wanted was Sex – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – Nampo – North Korea’s Industrial Region.