Posts Tagged ‘market’

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


One for show, the rest get bagged

More photos after the jump


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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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Sea Bream is damn cheap

More fish shots

This is how much fresh sea bream we got for 5,000 won or approximately $4.17.

This was our first fish purchase at the market. After watching some Korean women order fish and have them cleaned for them we were confident that if we pointed at a whole fish we wouldn’t be stuck trying to figure out to clean it ourselves.

We pointed to what we thought was red snapper, turned out it was sea bream, and watched as the fish seller took off the scales, gills, and fins and then he took out the guts and chopped off the head. We thought the head was going into the discard bucket, but instead after a drizzling with rock salt it went in the bag with the rest of the fish.

A whole fish for a little over $4 is a seriously good deal. We will definitely be back for more.


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I needed garlic for a sauce because every sauce in Korea requires garlic. Anna went into the fridge to grab the black plastic bag that had all the peeled garlic we bought from the market.

She handed it to me and I started to massage the contents because they didn’t feel quite like garlic. I opened the bag and instead of finding a pile of white cloves I saw a disembodied sea bream head staring back at me from a puddle of watery fish blood. Anna thought it was a great prank, especially because it was completely by accident.

So is the danger when you buy everything from the market where every seller hands over your purchase in the same shallow black plastic bag. Right now we have a fish head, garlic, pork ribs, mushrooms, carrots and chives in identical black bags in our fridge. There is a lot of feeling around to find what you’re looking for, and it’s gross every time you touch the head.

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