Noryangjin Fish Market

At work we’ve been trying to find a night when all 5 of us teachers are available for a group dinner, and it finally came together last night.

Out of all 5 of us ( 4 guys and 1 girl) , I may be the only native English speaker, but they all speak perfect English and have lived in countries like India, America, Sri Lanka and Australia to name a few. We spent about 10 minutes on the sidewalk in front of our hagwon trying to decide where to go. The usual question directed to me in situations like this is, “Can you eat (fill in the blank)?” The blank being: Seafood, cow, pork, Korean food, chicken, tripe… the list goes on and on. I always say I can and will eat anything and everything. I’m brand new here, show me what to do. Often my openness catches people off guard, I think they expect you to be picky. I have been told that a lot of Americans come over here and refuse to eat Korean food. That is absolutely ridiculous because I really, really have enjoyed eating Korean food. But I really, really enjoy eating. And traveling has taught me that having an open mind, following the lead of the locals and learning traditional customs will result in the most amazing eating experiences.

So we almost went to a seafood place across the street, and then to a typical BBQ place, and then at least 2 more places but decided not to because it would have meant having to walk a few blocks up the street to find a cross walk in order to walk a few blocks back, and we’re lazy because we’ve been standing and teaching all day. Finally, in a decision I’m so glad they made, we ended up taking a cab to the Noryangjin fish market

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Noryangjin fish market is the largest fish market in Seoul, and close to where I work and live. It’s also a wholesale auction market, and the bulk of seafood into Seoul and surrounding areas is brought through here. I couldn’t see it yet, but as soon as I stepped out of the cab I could smell the place. Once inside you notice millions of tanks of fish everywhere: Huge crab, lobster, rays, tuna, squid, octopi, all kinds of shellfish, sea cucumbers, giant prawns… You can buy sea creatures whole and take home, have them cleaned in front of you and take home, or have them prepared in front of you and consumed raw or cooked at the many establishments that are there on premise for that very reason.

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We selected our dinner out of the tanks, and right in front of us, they all got the club to the dome, sending the only female in our group running horrified. This gruesome display of humanity may have ended their aquatic existence, but it also put an end to our hunger. While the fish guy cleaned, gutted and carved our dinner sashimi style, we sat down at the restaurant and began to imbibe on beer, soju and Korean raspberry wine…and water, and watched the South Korea vs. Iran soccer match.

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We were so starved when the fish arrived (seriously, what takes so long to prepare the fish, there is no cooking involved) that I forgot to take a picture of the platter of raw goodness because we immediately dove right in. I don’t even know what kind of fish we ate, and my co-workers didn’t know how to say in English. But whatever, it was delicious. Take your best guess in the pre-meal picture above, and notice the bludgeoning instrument as well. Something that wasn’t pictured, that was included on the platter was gaebul, a pink sea slug/sea cucumber kind of thing. No joke, a piece of it wiggled when I picked it up with my chopsticks. How’s that for fresh? It was chewy, but really good, especially dipped in soy sauce and wasabi.

The meal was very similar to a Korean BBQ style meal in that there were lettuce and sesame leaves provided to wrap your food, various sauces and side dishes. I wrapped some of the fish up, but mostly preferred to eat it without, really taste the fish. It was pretty damn good.

After the sashimi platter a giant boiling pot of what I would describe as a fish stew was brought to our table. It included several fish carcasses, a spicy broth, various veggies like green onions and radish and other stuff. We let it cook for quite a while, and because we were crushing it we had the lady refill the broth twice. Feeling a little more with it because I had some food in me, even though I had consumed a fair amount of soju, I remembered to take a picture this time.

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Also, we had to go back and get some of the giant prawns. 3 minutes after my co-worker left the restaurant, he returned with the freshest deep fried giant prawn I’ve ever had.

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Standing outside at the end of the night, stuffed and a little tipsy, I was asked how I wanted to get home. Everyone always finds it funny that I rarely ride buses in Korea, even though it’s the easiest and fastest way to get around. The kicker, there is no English on the bus signs. So, instead of wasting money on a cab, this fine evening I got instructions from the crew on how to successfully navigate what I think was the 150 bus from the fish market to my pad. It turned out to be super fast and convenient, like 4 stops away.

And for the first time I graded homework after consuming a decent amount of alcohol. Luckily, my kids are mostly early elementary school aged, I have answer keys and it’s all very simple. I may have let a few minor errors slide resulting in couple extra 100% scores…but that’s why the kids like Dustin Teacher.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on June 18, 2009.

2 Responses to “Noryangjin Fish Market”

  1. […] Here is an account of visiting this market from a blog called Rip City to Seoul. […]

  2. […] Bongeunsa Gyeongbokgung Palace Back to the Fish Market Scooter Rally and Korean Movie Theaters Noryangjin Fish Market Korean Baseball is a Trip Bosingak, Insadong and No Baseball for You Mt. Umyeonsan, Daesongsa Temple […]

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