Last night was my favorite night in Seoul thus far. A group of us went to the Noryangjin Fish Market. Wow, what a culture shock. We could smell the seafood/fish as soon as we stepped off the subway but became desensitized to it after about 10 minutes. The fish market is the best place in the area to buy fresh seafood. If I had no idea it was a food market, I would have guessed it was Seoul’s largest indoor aquarium (like somewhere you would take your kids to). There was live fish, eel, octopus, crab, lobster, oyster, and so much more! The sea creatures looked adorable swimming around in their little tanks. If only they knew their awaiting fate…
I took a lot pictures because I’ve never seen anything like it. I was not only amazed by the many rows of vendors, but the entire process of buying and eating the seafood. I somewhat organized my night with numbers so you don’t get lost.
- Shopping around
It was hard to capture the entire market in a picture. In my photo, though, you can see the various stands selling their own unique sea creatures. This market goes on for 24-hours a day and 7 days a week. The actual fish auction occurs pretty early in the morning, before the consumers even arrive.
We entered the market around 8:30 p.m. and wandered up and down the aisles checking out our potential meal for the night. It was hard to walk around without being bombarded by the fishermen. If we stood at a particular vendor for too long, they started holding up different sea creatures from their tanks asking if we wanted to buy them. Take a look at the photos…
Bargaining with the Korean vendors is an important part of the process. There was one problem, though… We don’t speak Korean! Luckily, one of our friends spoke Chinese and came across a fellow Korean merchant who also spoke the same language. We decided to buy all of our seafood from this particular vendor.
I suddenly lost my appetite during this process. It was somewhat unsettling to pick out which fish/lobster/etc. we wanted to eat while it was still swimming, breathing, and enjoying its life. For example, we chose a lobster from the bunch, and the vendor weighed it to give us a price. It came to roughly $60, so we took it. The lobster was kind of cute so I ended up posing with it.
Next, we bought octopus, flounder, salmon, and some other things I honestly forget the names of. The fisherman had to stab the fish to death before skinning it. RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR EYES.
So after you purchase from the fish market, the food can be taken to a nearby restaurant and they will cook it for you! How neat is that? It was about 3 dollars to enter the restaurant and then money was added on to each dish that we wanted prepared. We ended up eating the flounder and salmon raw. Then, we had the restaurant steam our lobster and also make a soup out of the bones and skin of our perished fish.
Next, we had “live” octopus. After the chefs cut the octopus up, they quickly brought it over to our table so that the tentacles were still moving as we ate it (it was moving due to its nerves still firing). I don’t know how to upload videos, but imagine the octopus squirming around on the plate. Appetizing, right?
And as you chew the octopus, the tentacles would suction to the sides of your mouth. Look at the picture of a tentacle suctioned to my finger.
After drinking and having a good time, we played some games. We would fill up a shot glass of gross food combinations and the loser of the current game would have to take it. For example, I lost one round and had to eat a large portion of wasabi (that HOT green paste that makes your eyes water). I also had to take a shot of the octopus with a mixture of various condiments. Anyways, it was a great way to end the night. I’ve never laughed so hard! We will definitely be back 🙂
Hope you enjoyed the blog. Question of the day – Would you eat live octopus?