As a part of the #take12trips challenge in 2015, each month I will post about my excursion of choice and also give you some hints as to my plans for the next month. What did the month of January have to offer? A friend, Hayley Teacher, and I decided to experience the weirder side of Busan by……
Eating LIVE, Raw, and Wriggling Octopus!
Crazy, I know.
While eating these interesting dishes was a highlight for the day, I don’t want to start in the middle of the story.
Before trekking to the Jagalchi Fish Market to sample some Korean delicacies, we jumped on the subway headed for the Busan Museum for a little history lesson. The museum is laid out brilliantly with a wide range of information on Korean history, and most especially the history of Busan.
I am a lover of history, but I have a confession. One of my favorite aspects of history is fashion. What did people wear throughout time, how did it change, and how does it differ from other cultures? Because of this interest my main purpose for visiting the museum was to explore the Culture Experience Center.
Located on the lower level, separated from the other exhibits are a few decorated rooms just waiting to be experienced. In the outer room you can create traditional art with materials available for purchase from the gift shop.
But the real attraction is trying on traditional clothing, for FREE!
After mastering the art of becoming a queen for the morning, we jumped back on the subway and zipped off to the Jagalchi Fish Market.
Walking through the stalls of various dead, dried, and live creatures is an experience in of itself. The smells and noises assault your senses as you wander through the vendors. There is a plethora of sea life to choose from and many vendors will cook it for you on the spot and serve it to you at a nearby table with a bottle of soju.
For our culinary adventure we found our way into the main building. We walked through the rows of tubs filled with wriggling sea creatures searching for our prey. At last, a container of octopi caught my eye. Actually, I am not sure if the octopus caught my eye or if I caught his. The glare he sent my way could melt steal. Perhaps he knew what our intentions were.
The vendor walked over to us, we pointed and said, “산낙지, please.” The slimy creatures fate was sealed.
Live Octopus (산낙지-Sannakji)
Wikipedia Definition: It consists of live nakji (hangul: 낙지, a small octopus) that has been cut into small pieces and served immediately, usually lightly seasoned with sesame and sesame oil. The nakji pieces are usually still squirming on the plate. It can also be served whole. (Live octopus is believed to possess qualities for building strength and stamina).
Now, I would NOT label myself an adventurous foodie, a food connoisseur, or critic of delicacies. To be quite honest, I don’t even like potatoes, or squash, or even fish. What in the world possessed me to eat something that could possible kill me? Who knows….. perhaps I am slightly masochistic. Maybe I thought I could handle it after eating snake and duck brain in China.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, eating sannakji is dangerous and potentially life threatening. People have died because of lazy chewing which results in severe choking. The tentacles can get stuck and the suckers sometimes refuse to let go of the tongue and throat.
Hayley and I opted for the less dangerous version and had our octopus cut into pieces. I think this was adventurous enough, eating the octopus whole might possibly have been the end of me.
Surprise!! Let’s eat Raw Sea Worms (개불 – Gaebul) too!!
Again, I think I have a destructive streak, and this time I dragged Hayley down into to the murky ocean depths with me. Since we traveled all that way to the market, I figured we might as well go all out.
Eating LIVE octopus just wasn’t enough, I took one look at the sea worms, glanced at Hayley (who gave me a look of horror) and asked for a bottle of soju to wash down the strange looking creatures.
Are we crazy? I guess you can take a look at this video of our food adventure and decide for yourselves.
What an amazing cultural food experience. Will I ever eat those again, most likely not. They didn’t taste bad, I am just not a huge fan of the chewy texture. But now I can say I have eaten LIVE octopus, which is satisfying.
A great day wandering around Busan can only get better with a lovely meal at Gwangali Beach, following by some luxurious (naked) relaxing at Spaland.
Where will next months challenge take me? I’ll give you a hint. It involves Afrikaans and cheetahs!
What do you think of sannakji and gaebul? Would you ever try them? What is the craziest thing you have eaten?