Pheasant Yeot

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Pheasant Yeot

Pheasant yeot is a traditional product used as a sweetener. It has a consistency similar to taffy. The main ingredient used is Korean pheasant. In the past, wild hunted pheasant was used to make yeot. On Jeju Island, a typical pheasant habitat can be found in the grasslands surrounding Hallasan Mountain. The second most important ingredients are glutinous millet and barley. The fermentation process occurs thanks to the use of barley.   To make pheasant yeot, cleaned glutinous millet is boiled. Meanwhile, a malt (gol) is made from the barley, and then mixed with the millet to begin the fermentation process, which typically took place in a warm area over eight hours. Pheasant meat is prepared by being cut into bite-sized pieces. The fermented mixture and pheasant are boiled together for a long time, and then strained through hemp or cotton. The strain liquid is added to a pot and boiled down into a thick syrup. The pheasant meat is added to this syrup, and boiled again for an entire day. The finished yeot is stored in a jar and mainly used over the course of the winter.   Pheasant yeot is a traditional and important food in the history of Jeju Island. Pheasants provided a winter protein source in an area with barren soil, not suitable for many crops. Barley and millet were suited for the area, but not rice that was commonly grown in other parts of Korea. The food was also believed to have medical properties, being especially nutritious for the elderly and sick, and eaten to prevent colds and respiratory illness in children. Pheasant yeot was typically made in the winter, when the pheasants were fatter before laying their eggs, and when there was time to complete the production process because there were no other agricultural chores to attend to.   Today, older residents of Jeju Island remember fondly eating pheasant yeot and making it as a family. Today, this tradition has largely disappeared from most family homes, and there is only one producer who makes pheasant yeot for commercial sale, producing about 5 tons per year. Today, it is difficult to find the main ingredients to produce pheasant yeot, particualry the glutinous millet with the importation of sticky rice from other areas to Jeju Island. Pheasant yeot made for commercial sale cannot be made using wild birds, and pheasant are difficult to raise in captivity. Families who still make the product at home must obtain pheasant during a short hunting season. The time consuming process is another reason why this tradition has been lost by many families. Finally, the use of honey, sugar and artificial sweeteners in the place of pheasant yeot as a local sweetener means there is less incentive to continue making this unique product. 

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StateSouth Korea


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