Winter Delicacy: Grilled Oysters at Cheonbuk Oyster Village

The vast tideland of South Korea’s west coast offers so much life. From both the land and the sea.

The west coast of Korean peninsula is known for its high tides. The tidal range defers on season and places but in general the west coast ranges from 3~8m. Compare to 1~3m on south coast and 0.2~0.3m on east coast the difference is quite huge, which result in massive tidal mudflat full of sea creatures.  One of those being infamous fresh winter oysters.

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So much oysters!

Cheonbuk is a small town on the west coast of Korean peninsula near Seosan. It is known for a so-called “oyster village” where the entire block of seafood restaurants by the sea are selling fresh catch of oysters. Steamed, grilled, boiled, salted–you name it. You can get it all here at Cheonbuk.

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After the lady fires up the grill like a pro, she places a large bucket filled with oysters along with the tools. We’ll have to use industrial glove for cooking and eating these oysters. Just on our left hands. The right hand is for the tongs. I realized later on why we’re using these thick gloves and not the rubber ones. The fire is too hot and I keep end up using my hand to arrange the oysters on the grill–so much easier than using the tongs.

We were told that when placing the oyster on fire make sure that the hinge of the oyster is pointed towards the edge of the grill. And we soon understood why. As the inside of oyster started to boil, the shellfish started to explode and debris began popping like crazy. At one point it didn’t feel safe at all to sit by the grill-table anymore.

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The flesh of grilled oyster with green onion topping

I soon learned that by not placing the oyster directly over the fire the chance of us being burned by the popping debris is greatly reduced. It may take longer time for the oysters to cook, but you could see that the ones that are ready have a little gap between their shells and are easy to crack open. Once you manage to unveil the inner shell, the milky-white flesh appeals with irresistible smell of the sea.

The owner lady advised us to place the marinated green onions on top of cooked oysters. I personally liked to eat it just as it is. Without any sauce or sides. The little bit of liquid that was released inside the shell has just the right amount of salt that is needed for this delicacy. The flesh is so soft as it was steamed inside its own shell.

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Watching the sunset from our grill-table

Cheonbuk is the place where you can enjoy mounds of fresh oysters for very reasonable price. You can also watch the sun going down over the Yellow Sea as you flip your oysters on grill. People were also having steamed oysters in huge pot, steamed rice with oysters on top, and noodles with oysters. A must-go place for an oyster fanatic like myself.

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