Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Noryangjin Fish Market, the home of the escaping octopi.

Well, I have inadvertently not written a blog for another month. That would be due to the fact that I was having a fabulous time with Grant and Adrienne in Seoul! And also Marsha and Greg, my aunt and uncle came in January/February. It's been a very exciting couple months!

If you don't know me personally, Grant and Adrienne are my brother and sister. I am going to take a quick break in my Europe blogs to tell you a bit about the trip. Then I will go back to writing in order. (I'm so close to being finished! They will be finished by the end of May! I am determined! I apologize that life keeps getting in the way of me being a productive writer.)

Grant was able to come for about 8 days and Adrienne stayed for a whole month! It was fabulous. While Grant was here, we spent a lot of time running around, trying to see as much as possible since he had a limited amount of time.

One of those places was Noryangjin Fish Market. After three years, I had managed to never go (because I went to a different fish market in Busan) and I thought it was something we should see.

That and Grant was very insistent that he try live octopus during his time in Korea. He was not disappointed.

Well, he was actually determined to just eat all the weird foods he could. We succeeded in a few of them, but ran out of time before he could eat puffer fish. That means I haven't tried puffer fish...I think I get a pass due to the fact that I've all the weird foods. Including monk fish, which is a truly horrifying looking fish.

It's that fish in the ice to the left. I saw him at Namdaemun Market when I was walking around with Marsha and Greg. A few days later, my friend Hye Jin took me to eat Agu-Jjim, which is, apparently, monk fish with vegetables and a spicy sauce.

Little did I know that they would not just give you pieces of the boneless fish, but they cut up the entire fish, bones and all, and put it into the dish.

I discovered this fact when I found a jaw and basically a full set of teeth in my food.

It. was. terrible.

I immediately lost my appetite. I can put jellyfish, scorpion, live octopus, penis fish and this weird fish head stew on my list of weird things that were good.

(Side note: Yes, it's actually called penis fish. Also known as Fat Innkeeper Worm, also known as Urechis unicinctus).

Monkfish, sea squirt and star fish are on my bad list.

And Beondaegi, also known as boiled silk worm larvae. That was not delicious. And now, every time I smell it, the smell is 5 times as powerful.

I got severe food poisoning the day after I ate the Agu-jjim. I know it was the kimbap I ate that day (either the egg or the spinach was the culprit) but I want to blame it on the teeth I inevitably ingested while eating the monkfish.

The food poisoning was terrible. My evening classes end at 10 PM. At approximately 9:30, I was perfectly fine. At 9:45 I was thinking, "Hmm my stomach hurts, maybe it's not a good idea to go to the gym." At 9:50, I was thinking, "Wow my stomach really, really, really hurts."

At 9:56, 4 minutes before class ended, I had to run out of the room mid-sentence due to the immediate need to vomit. I made it to the bathroom, thank heavens, but I can tell you it is never fun to throw up at work! I returned to my classroom and had to tell my students to go home. They noticed I was sick due to the fact I'd put my hair in a ponytail (seeing as I did not want to get anything unseemly in my hair).

And so it began.

I was up until 8 AM vomiting, which was the worst. I had to go to work for my night class the next evening and my students said, "Your face is so white! You look so sick!" I didn't feel up to speed for several days and when I weighed myself at the gym a few days later, I was alarmed to learn I had lost 10 pounds.

No, that is not a typo. TEN pounds. And it never came back, which was surprising. It was kind of nice, but alarming at the same time.

I also saw a shark in Namdaemun Market. That was a very sad moment.

Anyway, back to Noryangjin. Adrienne, Grant and I headed to Noryangjin a little before lunch time.

It is quite a fascinating sight to behold! It's enormous. And, as would be expected, there were fish everywhere!

There were fish and mollusks of unusual size throughout the market. Including those mussels to the left.

Here's the market from above. You can see the vastness here quite well. It also extends to the right of the picture really far. It's basically a warehouse of fish.

Here is one of the stands from above. Each stand had a fairly large variety of fish, though each stand did not have every kind of fish, otherwise that would have been unfair to the people in the back.

I wonder the people at the beginning of the market have been there to get that prime location!

They had octopus, both dead and alive.

As usual, the live octopus were trying to break free of their buckets. I saw more escaping octopus that I could count! Of course, It took several pictures of them, just to show you.

To the left is one making his escape, straight into the legs of a larger, dad octopus.

Here is the market from the ground. One row of the market at least.
Here are various shelled organisms.
Here are the shrimps, but small and gigantic. I did not know that shrimps existed in that size.
Here are the crabs, small and large.
 Apparently lobsters are also gigantic.
Here is a larger escaping octopus. He actually made quite the break for it. You'll also notice a smaller one in the background of the picture that was also on the run.

If I could speak Korean better, I would have said "Excuse me sir, but your octopus is escaping."

Unfortunately, I could not and just pointed at it and then ran away, just in case he thought I wanted to buy him.

The bottom of this picture is the penis fish.
The market once again. This was towards the end of the first line.
Here are some squid bobbing around.
And another escaping octopus. They were escaping all over the place!

The tentacles on this octopus were shocking. I feel like it MUST have been a giant octopus. Or giant squid. I can't tell from this angle.
And here are some more! Who would buy those and actually cook them?? I don't know about other people, but I only have 2 burners in my apartment and that's pretty standard here.
Some of these rays were looking very smiley. The others were looking quite horrified at being dead.
I don't know what this is but it makes me want to vomit.
 Here are some eels!
I think it's an eel. It's looking at me. I can't look back at it!
You could also buy various spices to cook your various purchases with, both spicy and non-spicy.

Grant purchased the 3 small octopi and we headed to the second floor to a restaurant, where they prepare the octopi for consumption.

They asked if we wanted it live and I said yes.

Adrienne was not happy about it.
 Grant was thrilled.
I had already tried it before but it's actually pretty good, so I was not unhappy about eating it again.
Grant in his excitement and Adrienne in her horror.

Adrienne is an extremely picky eater, so I was very proud of her for actually putting the octopus in her mouth. She even tried TWO bites after I fed her and forgot to dip it in the sauce.

As our mom said later, "She doesn't even like waffles!"

Here is Grant with a tentacle hanging out of his mouth.
Here Grant is at the market with the rays behind him.

Here is Adrienne with the rays.

Adrienne cleansed her palate later with some ice cream waffle. She likes waffles as long as their taste is covered with ice cream and whipped cream. Yumm.

It was an interesting start to the day. I will write later about all of our other exploits.

Just in case you needed them, here are some videos of the three of us eating live octopi, for your viewing pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. I'm aware that you're all adults, but I'm proclaiming right now that NO ONE - I repeat. NO ONE - should be eating puffer fish.