Friday, May 23, 2014

Jagalchi Fish Market

Markets are one of my favorite types of places to visit. Everything seems to be a bit more intense in local markets, from the sellers and their wares, to the shoppers. Markets can be an assault on the senses. Being a port city, Busan is known for its seafood. As such, we visited the Jagalchi Fish market, Korea’s seafood market. Much of the market is indoor, but we chose to spend more time walking through the stalls outside. In both, the variety of fish and seafood was quite amazing. Tanks contained live fish and colorful plastic bowls were piled high with mounds of various colored fish and shells. Dried fish in interesting shapes were arranged with care. Fresh seaweed was neatly cut and stacked. Older women, known as “Jagalchi Ajumma” were clearly masters of this domain, donning short curly black hair, long rubber gloves, and brightly colored waterproof aprons and high rubber boots. 
Gaebul spoon worm

Prepared Gaebul, eaten raw

Visitors had their choice of small booth-like restaurants. Nothing fancy, but definitely places to eat fresh catch. Choose your desired seafood by pointing to the tank or bowl, and soon it will be on your plate. We actually ate at the market twice, once having fish & eel cooked on a hotplate right on our table, and the other time eating a most strange spoon worm gaebul, known as the penis fish. Those tubular non-descript creatures that looked more like bratwurst to me were quickly deflated, their insides scraped out. The outer portions were cut up, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and placed on our table, along with some various sauces. Not quite sure how to prepare or eat them, we patiently waited for the lady to return. Meanwhile, she worked on an order for another table, decisively stabbing one end of a still wiggling eel and deftly filleting it. Guts and other unwanted parts of the seafood were scraped together, then the next items prepared. Perhaps a bit puzzled why we were not eating our food, another lady came to our table and gestured that we were to dip the raw fish into the sauce - no cooking! Can’t say that I enjoyed the taste or rubbery texture, but my Vietnamese friend and I did eat it, albeit giggling while we did. Not satiated, we left and ate a bit more familiar food shortly thereafter. 

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