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Journals from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea

2013-06-26 Noryangjin Fish Market

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Octopuses for sale

 The Noryangjin fish market was a hands on experience of Korean cuisine. Basically you can get fresh seafood and take your purchase to a restaurant have it cooked for you. The selection is basically incredible; literally every creature of the sea that you could imagine is at this market, ranging from giant shrimp to tuna to giant live octopuses. It’s not for the faint of heart especially the live octopus, it’s a common dish to cut it up live and serve while the tentacles are still very much moving even when it’s inside your mouth. Excessive, long chewing is required as the tentacles still put up a struggle. Technically I believe that the octopus is definitely dead but the nervous system is so sensitive that it’s still able to move a long time after its actual death.

It brags over 830 seafood items and if you’re a fresh food enthusiast, this is the place for you. The struggle isn’t even choosing which items you want, it’s getting it at a reasonable price. Since my friend Casper and I were foreigners we were constantly getting ripped off. Our Korean friends would tell us to keep bargaining until you got what you wanted, but that proved to be difficult since we firstly, did not know Korean and since we felt quite shy. After a while you just get sick of paying for overpriced food and leave when you don’t get the exact amount you want. Casper and I literally walked around the market for maybe an hour before even buying anything and eventually bought a giant shrimp with what seemed to be a leopard like print, two giant clams, salmon and an octopus. We went to a restaurant and handed it to the owners who cooked it for us and provided side dishes as well as sauces and rice to accommodate our seafood feast. We ended up overestimating what we really needed as we only ate half of the dishes we ordered and felt bad in the end for wasting so much. Very cliché thing to do of a foreigner. The really crazy part was trying the “live” octopus, chewing is name of the game. I’ve heard of people dying before because they didn’t chew enough and they choked to death. Not something I really wanted to hear before I tried this delicacy so I chewed like there was no tomorrow. The problem is it keeps moving while it’s your mouth so it’s kind of like putting up a fight with your food. I tried it once and that was definitely enough for me, I prefer my food completely dead and not moving. But if food that’s live doesn’t appeal to you there’s also everything else in the sea to try, the giant shrimp I ate was the best I have ever tasted and I was in awe of how giant this specimen was in addition to it’s exotic pattern. The clam was okay but it was cooked and I can recommend it raw. Korean food is honestly all about variety, which is why it’s one of my favorites. It’s made up of a little bit of everything: meat, seafood, vegetables, you name it and it’s there making it a healthy diet for a healthy lifestyle. 

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