Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jagalchi Fish Market

Augh, this crab has acne!
The freshest fish you can find in Korea, as I've heard, are sold daily at the Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan. I went there with my parents on Sunday afternoon because I assumed that they, being Asian, would enjoy the sights and sounds of an authentic market. I mean, every Taiwanese person I know raves about Taipei's famous night markets, right?
Jagalchi Fish Market's indoor vendors, who cheerfully prepare any fish you choose right out of its tank.
Well, it was drizzling and the fish were so fresh they were still alive and flipping their fins in buckets too small for the dozens of them. All in all, it was very wet and none too exciting, so we slipped inside to a part of the market where fresh fish become fresh lunch. It was kind of crazy: vendors are lined up all along the length of a huge wet, noisy room as fish go nuts in their tanks. If you want Korean-style sashimi, they'll just grab a fish out of a tank, slice it up, and hand it to you on a plate as you sit crammed back-to-back with other patrons on bright yellow MacGuyvered benches. Not your normal dining experience.

Since I didn't really know the names of any of the various marine creatures I saw, I pointed to some clam/scallop things (조개), a large black fish, and some weird-looking crabs. I didn't want anything raw, and the fishmonger assured me that the clams would be buttered and grilled, the fish grilled with salt, and the crabs steamed.
Our fishmonger fed scraps of leftovers back to the fish themselves. Fish cannibalism...
Everything was absolutely delicious. I normally am not a huge fan of Korean seafood dishes, but I had no complaints here. They even gave us free bowls of 미역국 (perhaps because we were amusing foreigners, or perhaps in apology for taking a long time) -- appropriate since seawood soup is traditionally eaten on one's birthday, and my dad's birthday was just last week!
맛있다! The grilled clam/scallops were amazing.
After our large and extremely satisfying meal, we were slapped with an exorbitantly high bill. I hadn't bothered to ask about any prices, but maybe it was five bucks per clam or something. Feeling bad about this, I bought my parents dessert (honeycomb ice cream!) and took care of all of their transportation for the rest of the day.

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Directions to Jagalchi Fish Market: take the subway line 1 (orange) and leave from exit 10. Take the first right, pass the parking structure, and you will come upon streets with awnings where the market begins. You will smell it before you see it, I promise.
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I'm going to post really haphazardly over the next few days because there are a lot of things in the backlog: my weekend in Busan, the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival (which I visited twice), Fulbright Spring Conference, and linguistics research on Jeju Island, not to mention the recaps of my backpacking trip in Southeast Asia which I haven't finished yet...


  1. why don't you normally like korean seafood dishes? everyone has been telling me i should eat seafood on jeju and in busan

    1. You should eat seafood! I recommend Korean-style sashimi (hwe/회) and maybe live octopus? The reason I don't like Korean seafood is that I ate far too much of it with my homestay family in my first year. Wayyy too much sashimi. Also, everything is very spicy. Stay away from anglerfish (agujjim). I think just being raised on Chinese, Taiwanese, and even Japanese seafood caused me to constantly compare the seafood I have here to amazing food back home... and home is better.

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