Korea Live Octopus (Sannakji)
*WARNING: THIS VIDEO IS NOT FOR THE SQUIRMY OR FAINT-HEARTED
Sannakji, as the locals call it, is a local delicacy enjoyed by Koreans. It offers a variety of raw dishes that is often seasoned by Sesame oil but the more popular and distinct one being the live Octopus (Nakji). I personally do not know of any other countries that eat octopus the way the Koreans do.
The Octopus which is usually bought live and killed on the spot, has it’s tentacles cut up and and seasoned with sesame oil is served while still squirming and moving. The tentacles which works much like the tail of a lizard almost seemingly has a life of its own as it continues wiggling for over 30mins even after the dish is served.
While some may find it cruel, we thought to ourselves, when in Rome do as the Romans do and went ahead to try it since we wouldn’t be able to do it back at home or in any other county for that matter. The octopus really wasn’t as slimy as we thought it would be and actually tasted pretty sweet much thanks to the sesame oil seasoning. While you can still feel it wriggling in your mouth, it does go away soon after you start chewing it. A rather intriguing experience I must say.
But before you go ahead and try it for yourself, be warned! That because the tentacles along with the suction cups do still work, there has been reported deaths resulting from consuming the live octopus tentacles due to choking. Do remember to chew it thoroughly before you swallow if you decide to ever try them the next time you are in Korea.
Noryangjin Fish Market
If you would like to try the live Octopus or have seafood in general, there is no better place to try it at the Noryanjin Fish Market of Korea which is open 24hours. The Noryangjin Fish market is one of the biggest and most popular fish market in Korea and the seafood here is as fresh as they come.
Getting to the Noryangjin Fish Market
Getting to the Fish market is really straightforward. Simply take the subway to Noryangjin station and look for Exit 2. Once there, you’ll see an overhead bridge straight ahead (see video above). Walk up the bridge and turn right and you’ll soon find yourself at the fish market.
The Noryangjin Fish market has a huge variety of LIVE seafood! From king crabs to huge ass prawns to abalone to lobsters and of course the famous octopus. In the rows towards the back, they also sell fishes of different types that you too can purchase and cook. But do not forget to haggle especially if you are buying in bulk from one particular stall. Stall owners have also been known to throw in some additional FREE seafood if you do buy beyond a certain amount.
Cooking and Eating
The best part about the market is that after you are done getting what you want. There is a restaurant upstairs that is much like the D’talipapa market in Boracay, where you can bring your live seafood there and have them cook it for you in whichever way you want it. If you do get lost or can’t find the place, simply ask the stall owner in which you bought your seafood from and most of them would be more than happy to bring you there personally. If you want to try the live Octopus, do let them know as well and they will prep it for you. Do also note that the live Octopus that Koreans eat are also not the adult ones you see in the start of the above video, those are usually cooked. The Live Octopus dish usually makes use of the baby Octopus so don’t go about buying the largest Octopus around if you would like to try their Sannakji.