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Posts Tagged ‘busan’

Walking the wet aisles of Korea’s largest fish market and seeing all the live seafood wiggling hopelessly in tanks is an amazing experience. The smell wasn’t as bad as we’d been told and all my concentration was taken up by the sights around me. There were fish big and small, mounds of shellfish, and all types of sea creatures we couldn’t identify. The best way for you to get to know this amazing market is just to take a visual tour. For all the strange creatures and mass quantities check out our highlights video, and for a closer look check out the photo gallery. Enjoy.

All photos by Anna Waigand. Video editing by Anna Waigand. Videography by Andre Francisco.

Jagalchi Fish Market: Best of Reel from Seoulful Adventures on Vimeo.

The Indoor Market
Jagalchi Market's $47 million building

Jagalchi: Inside the newly renovated market

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One for show, the rest get bagged

More photos after the jump

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The pinks just starting to come out
Photo by Anna Waigand.

Coming from the Midwest, I didn’t always get the freshest of seafood (except for whitefish livers in Bayfield, Wisc.). But the ring of restaurants around the towering Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan offered many opportunities to get fresh seafood whether you wanted it caught that morning, raw or still alive. After being heckled by women with only the most necessary English skills, we settled on a place with English labeled pictures above the doorway. We think the restaurant is named Sharjeong Sharkkomjangeo (살청 살껌정어), but the sign isn’t totally clear.

We decided we weren’t ready to try stir-fried hagfish, but “a shrimp roasted” sounded pretty good. Our waitress placed a heavy pan with a sheet of tinfoil covered in a think layer of coarse salt on our counter-top burner. She let it heat up as she brought us some appetizers including raw conch shell.

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Photo by Anna Waigand.

Neither Anna or I had eaten conch before, but Greg recommended it and our server was insistent. She dug the grey and black animals out of their shells with a tooth pick, dipped them in hot sauce and then, arm outstretched, forced them on us. See Anna’s on-the-spot video review.

Busan: Eating Raw Conch from Seoulful Adventures on Vimeo.

Click for more of the review and another video

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Hagfish: Skinned, slimey and still alive
Photo by Anna Waigand

When I first saw them they were just tubes of raw, pink flesh frantically writhing in a shallow red bowl. No skin, no scales, no head. Just a line of pink flesh with a white lattice of fat woven into it. In a couple of seconds, the slithering turned into an infrequent twitching, and then it joined the pink pile of now dead hagfish.

One narrow street of the Jagalchi Fish Market is where all the hagfish sellers seem to congregate. The method for killing hagfish is just as disgusting as the fish. Each hagfish seller has a board with a round peg that sits in a hole in one end. They take a live hagfish, stick their head under the peg and crush it into the hole. With the fish still moving, they do a couple of quick knife swipes to seperate it from its skin and organs. (Hagfish hides are actually made into leather as it turns out.) The fish are then tossed into a pile of their recently dead friends. To see the process for yourself, check out the video.

Hagfish: God’s Grossest Creatures from Seoulful Adventures on Vimeo.

Video by Andre Francisco. Editing by Anna Waigand.

You probably haven’t heard of hagfish before because almost no one but Koreans eat them. And why don’t they eat them? Maybe because they’re mud dwelling scavengers that burrow their way into nearly-dead fish that fall to the bottom of the sea and then eat their way out, even if the fish are still alive. Or maybe it’s because their other name is the slime eel because their defense mechanism is to produce a mucus that turns into unbelievable quantities of slime when mixed with water. Slime that suffocates other fish who eat them.

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Magic Soju Enhancer Vending Machine
Photo by Anna Waigand

Most foreigners don’t particularly like soju. Koreans drink it for any and all occasions and often when even people from Wisconsin would question whether it’s time for a drink. The national liquor just tastes like watered down vodka, but not watered down enough to not burn. So when we heard from our travel companions that Busan had their own special type of soju we were excited to try it.

At both our lunch restaurant and our night out with the whole group, near our table was a coin-operated vending machine. For a 500 won coin you got a tiny white packet shaped like the little buckets of sealed cream that lounge in bowls at coffee shops. The tiny packet had a thick brown liquid with little if any smell that was supposed to be dumped into a 360ml bottle of soju. Apparently this is all that makes Busan Soju from Busan, because when our friend who spoke some Korean asked for Busan Soju she was pointed to the machine.

As the brown liquid swirled into the soju, we were all curious how much a tiny packet could flavor a bottle of alcohol. We poured maybe half a shot into our cups for a trial run and threw them down the hatch.

And for the first time drinking soju, I came up with a smile on my face. It really was amazingly different. The packet hadn’t added a distinct flavor, but it mellowed out the soju to a smooth drink without the wave of burning that accompanied most soju shots. It was a great addition to soju and should definitely be tried if you are in Busan, but I don’t know if it is worth a trip across the peninsula.

We stocked up on a couple of the packets, and we will have to see how they mix with soju back in Seoul.

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I know we’ve kept you waiting for awhile for our posts from Busan and the Pusan International Film Festival. Anna developed a case of bronchitis after we got back and I was down for a day too so we’ve been laying low this week trying to recuperate. Here are some quick thoughts from our whirlwind trip to Busan, and we promise there will be more to come.

KFC in Seoul Station
– We hadn’t even left Seoul when we saw something awesome and then strange. First was another example of genius Korean engineering. I ordered a biscuit and honey, but they only had jelly. The jelly packet had two clear wells of strawberry jelly sealed with a plastic top. In the U.S. you would peel off this plastic top and use a combination of a knife and some careful squeezing to get the jelly on your biscuit. Not in Korea. In the middle of the packet was a small slit. If you pinched the two wells together, the jelly would rupture through the slit and neatly squeeze onto your biscuit without any peeling, utensil or mess. As I said, genius.

While I was being fascinated by my jelly packet, Anna and Danielle were noticing two women at a table behind me. I can only describe it as what looked like two emaciated Russian prostitutes eating out of a tub of ice cream. This wasn’t like the large ice cream, or a novelty size ice cream only obese people order. It was seriously an industrial tub your order out of a restaurant supply magazine and serve 50 ice cream cones out of. It was ridiculous, but it seemed like they needed the calories.

KTX Train – The train had a real time speed clock on the monitor that seemed to max out at about 300 km/h. Also the train’s PA system was playing an oriental version of The Beatles’ Let It Be on loop when we got on. We were planning on having a couple beers on the late night train, but apparently unlike Amtrak, people don’t get wasted on mini bottles of Jack Daniels (cause that is what they’re best at) and then break their girlfriend’s phones in half. But that is a story for another time.

The water front of the fish market – Apparently past the fish monger booths and in the parking lot right on the water is where all the seedy types hang out at the Jagalchi Fish Market. Including someone selling a skin remedy made from whole dried frogs, which were piled in a bucket right there so you knew he was the real deal.
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Down the way was also a man with a microphone selling small tubes of some kind of liquid. He had a tent, some benches and a crowd of exclusively 50-plus men.
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So we are standing there, listening to him talk and pass out some tubes and then OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT? IS THAT A LIVE PYTHON UNDER A TOWEL?
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Apparently yes it was. A giant green snake was laying mostly in a basket covered with a towel, but about 2 feet of its massive body were sticking out and laying along the bench. I guess the guy was selling snake oil.

Badgers and wine bottles – While trying to find a bar on the busy pedestrian plaza near the PIFF square, we saw what looked like some foreigners banging a wine bottle against a tree. It turns out a guy from Wisconsin had wrapped a towel and some bubble wrap around a bottle of wine and was convinced that if he smacked the bottom hard enough against a tree the cork would shoot out the other end. This is apparently possible according to this video, but the video also says to lightly hit it many times, and this guy was slamming it against the tree. I had my pocketknife with a corkscrew on me so I offered it to him to open his bottle and he wasn’t the least bit grateful. He kept on saying that his method would have worked and didn’t say thank you until one of his friends reminded him to. I guess people from Wisconsin should just stick to beer.

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