When all labels are removed and products win or lose based on their merits, American pork is the winner and still champion among South Korean consumers and meat industry experts alike.
For the second time in two years, South Korea's top cooking magazine, Cookand, joined with the U.S. Meat Export Federation for a blind taste test conducted with panels of food industry experts and consumers to determine which pork would be preferred by Koreans when taste is the only consideration.
Four types of chilled pork belly and collar butt (U.S., Canadian and two South Korean brands: Sunjin and Moguchon) were included in the sampling. To remove any favorable conditions for one type of pork over another, each sample was 10 days old, purchased from the sale seller, cut to the same portion size and cooked identically without seasoning.
Each participant judged the samples on tenderness, tastiness and juiciness, as well as how the pork smelled and its texture after cooking.
U.S. pork was the clear winner among the food industry experts on the panel, earning a score of 79 out of 100 versus 74 for Canadian pork and 74 and 69 for the two Korean pork brands. The consumer panel put U.S. and Canadian pork in a tie with a score of 74 while the two Korean pork brands earned scores of 62 and 53.
"I favored domestic pork prior to this test, but my preference has changed since the blind test," said Lee Wook-Jung, producer for KBS television and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, a world-renowned network of culinary schools. "The tenderness and taste of imported pork was as good as, if not better than, that of Korean pork."
Cookand magazine assembled a panel of 10 food industry experts and 10 consumers as judges for the competition.