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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Oh no, Octi!

So it's been a few days into our trip in Korea and I have yet to sample one of the food items I was most interested in - fresh, real live octopus! It was like the ultimate thing I wanted to try at the time. I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to food, and I would definitely want to try everything at least once.


Sadly, our group didn't get to visit an actual fish market and pick out our own fresh seafood cook, but we were able to get the next best thing: pojangmacha (pop-up tent restaurant) a food stall placed inside a tent that grills and cooks the food items you pick from their spread. 

BBQ everything plz

So we settled down on one of the tables set around the stall and started picking out the foods we wanted to have cooked. We went a bit crazy because we were just picking things left and right. But hey, we wanted to try almost everything. Plus it was a bit hard with the language barrier. None of us really spoke any Korean and the only conversational word we all knew well was "kamsahamnida" (thank you). And boy, did we abuse that word! So anwyway, we got gimbap (rice, egg, pickled veggies wrapped in seaweed and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds on top), some eels, couple of pancake things, and some other stuff. 

 Resulting in this!

The meals are served on plates wrapped in plastic bags for easy take-out or disposal. It was a good meal although we thought it was quite pricey when the bill arrived. Buut it was fine. Oh and by the way, right beside the stall, there was a tank filled with octopuses (octopi?). All swirling around in a mass of tentacles. This was it! I could finally eat sannakji (live octopus). I closed my eyes and picked one out of the mass (sorry, dude) and watched as the Korean woman manning the stand just straight up dipped her hand in the tank and grabbed the one i picked. Its tentacles clung onto the rest of its tankmates, in an apparent bid to stay with them, but in one swift pulling motion, he was separated from the tank and all the other octopuses. The woman grabbed a big butcher's knife and straight up sliced and diced that octopus on a chopping board then placed the pieces onto a plate, sprinkled sesame seeds on top and placed some red sauce beside it. The whole process was very quick, I don't think the octopus had enough time to process what was happening to it. 

Wiggle wiggle

The tentacles were all still wriggling around on the plate, and they continued to wriggle around on my chopsticks and in my mouth as i popped one in. You have to chew them very carefully or else they get stuck in your throat and you could choke. It tasted surprisingly good, rubbery but flavorful. Something I'm definitely up to try again!

Oh, and if you're really adventurous, you could also try beondegi (stewed silkworm larvae). It's basically a bunch of bugs in a pot.

Told you! (Source)

Okay, so we found one stall out of all the places we've been to that sold this. It must be getting rare (gee, I wonder why). You get a cup of these things and toothpicks to pick them out one by one I suppose. But you can also down them in gulps like a cup of coffee. Okay, so honestly I didn't like this. It tasted like...I don't know. Like the earth, soil? I can't explain it, just that I don't think I'd want to try this again. Oh and yeah, they do pop their juicy insides into your mouth when you bite into them. Just in case you were wondering.

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