If you’ve ever been to a fish market in Asia, you’re probably not surprised one bit about the sheer amount and kinds of seafood you can find being sold in the stalls.
During our day meeting up with Meagan from LifeOutsideofTexas, she took us to the Jalgalchi Fish Market in Busan so we could see what it was like.
At the Jalgalchi market, we got to see exactly how the animals are kept, how they’re prepared and how customers chose which one they want. This is the reality of it all so I was glad we went so I could learn more and see it for myself.
Jalgachi Fish Market in Busan
This seafood market is the biggest one in South Korea and it’s dominated by women. It’s a popular tourist attraction for people to come and eat the raw fish, famous live octopus and more.
For us, it was a way to learn more about the food culture of Korea. No, we didn’t try the live octopus… we were too chicken! Maybe next time. I have heard that it tastes good but after watching the behind-the-scenes of Oldboy, I don’t think I could have kept it down.
The indoor market
As you walk to the indoor part of the market, you’ll see tanks everywhere and each one is stuffed to the brim with fish, crabs, shrimp, octopi and anything other type of seafood you can think of. It was honestly amazing to see so many sea creatures in one place.
As we walked past a few people who were looking at an octopus tank, I heard a weird squelching noise and we turned around to see what it was. Turns out, we found out how you showcase an octopus to your customer.
The vendor used a hook to grab an octopus out of the tank and tried to hold it out (it kept moving around) for the people to see. They shook their heads and back into the tank the octopus went. Seemed like he wasn’t big enough so he lived to see another day.
The lady pulled out another one and threw it on the floor. This guy seemed to know what was going on, he squirted ink and tried to propel away but he ended up being the chosen one. The lady got a bag of water, grabbed the octopus, chucked him inside, tied the bag and the deal was made. He was probably dinner for them that night.
Now that is what you call fresh!
Then there were all sorts of things on dishes that I didn’t recognize that I remember seeing in some pictures. What was it again? Oh right, the penis worm. What an appetizing name! Can’t forget to mention the things that look like a vagina.
Then there were some of the normal things like shrimp, clams and crab. They also had some of the biggest crabs I have ever seen in those tanks!
And even more octopi. A lot of the little baby ones too.
You’ll also be able to see people cleaning the seafood and the most fascinating one was the eels. It is unbelievable how fast some of those Korean ladies can skin those things! They just pull one up, stick it to a board with a nail and skin it alive. When they’re done they just throw them into the pile and some of them are still wriggling around!
The outdoor market has all kinds of dried seafood and street food. Everything you saw alive in the indoor market you can find dried outside.
And you can still see some tanks outside of restaurants full of crabs, shrimp and fish.
Walking through the Jalgachi fish market was actually a pretty awesome experience. I was incredibly curious to know more about the seafood culture in Korea and I got to see it first hand. I’m still a bit squeemish at the thought of eating anything alive buuuut you never know! One day I’ll post a “eating live octopus” video of my own.
Information about the Jalgachi Fish Market
Directions: Jalgachi Station, line 1, exit 10
Once you exit the station, turn right onto Jagalchi-3-gil street. Walk about 5 minutes and turn left to the market’s entrance.
You can hire a tour guide to take you through the market.
Operation hours: 8 AM – 10 PM
Open all year round
See what the market is like including the octopus and eels!
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