I knew my last meal in Korea had to be good; but what? Barbecue? One of the many soups I’d savored over my year-and-a-half stay? A rice dish? Seafood? I couldn’t decide. But lucky for me, I didn’t have to.
As a going away present, my friend Yong Kyu made reservations at a Korean royal cuisine restaurant so I could check off one of the last items from my Korean food bucket list: sinseollo. Sinseollo is a special type of hot pot once reserved only for royalty. It’s basically a mild broth with beef, egg, radish, mushrooms, walnuts, ginkgo nuts and a few other vegetables served in a fancy silver pot.
Before you freak and and think I’m a monster for eating 산낙지 (Sannakji), otherwise known as live octopus, let me tell you something: it’s not really alive. Well, it’s alive when it gets to the table, but then the server chops it up into bite-sized pieces. The pieces squirm around for about 20 minutes afterward.
To avoid any life-threatening consequences, you need to make sure to soak the tentacles in sesame oil and chew carefully.
I would write more, but I think the video says it all.
Every weekend, my roommates and I try to do something “touristy.” And every weekend, we end up getting lost.
Not this time.
The moment we exited Noryangjin subway station, the smell of fish and saltwater guided us over a bridge and down two flights of stairs—into the largest seafood market in Seoul.
There, hundreds of fishmongers and women dressed in aprons and rubber boots greeted us in Korean and in English, trying to sell their fresh catches of the day.
Flounder, snapper, squid, sea cucumbers, giant prawns, sea squirts, monster crabs and every kind of shellfish imaginable were displayed in neat little rows and pristine fish tanks. Some were even shoved in our faces—a sales tactic that didn’t fare too well with my vegan sister.
She wasn’t fond of the man who bludgeoned the fish we chose for lunch, either.
Call me inhumane, but the sight of blood running down the flounder’s scales didn’t stop me from watching the monger slice it into sashimi. Nor did it stop me from dipping it into a homemade garlic chili sauce and picking its bones out of the soup they made with its carcass.