Local Cuisine in Jeju: Largehead Hairtail Soup

Jeju is an island–the biggest island in South Korea. Largehead hairtail, or cutlass fish, is the one that comes to mind when Koreans are asked to name one seafood that represents the island. Jeju galchi is so famous that the name itself became a brand that usually followed by ridiculously high price. Nevertheless, tourists are willing to pay the dough to taste the fish freshly caught from the waters off the island’s eastern coast. What must be so special about it?

A bowl of galchi-guk (largehead hailtail soup)

The fish is long, slender, and radiant with bright silverly shine. No wonder it has given the name of eun-galchi, with “eun” meaning “silver”. Most Koreans are familiar with how they are cooked in Jeju–grilled or braised with spicy marinade are the two most common methods but there are many other ways to enjoy one of Jeju sea’s greatest offerings. Continue reading

The Croaker Street in Mokpo, South Korea

Four hours of bus drive from Seoul left myself and my bicycle at a terminal in Mokpo, the biggest port city on southwest coast of Korean peninsula. My ferry ride to Jeju Island leaves after midnight and I got plenty of time to cruise around the city best known for its seafood in search for local delicacy.

There is a song that goes “Mokpo is the port”. As the lyrics say, Manho-dong, the neighbourhood near the Port of Mokpo, is a hub of fresh catch that never cease to release the smell of the deep blue sea. Restaurants serve all kinds of delicious local cuisine made with sea creatures harvested from the waters off Sinan, South Jeolla Province. Out of these unique regional seafood parades, fresh croaker sashimi is known as something that one should must give a try in their lifetime.

Croaker sashimi with a side of assorted “special cuts”

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Jeju Local Food: Congee with Conch Meat

You can taste conches nearly anywhere along the coast of South Korea. Interestingly, depends on where you are the species of conches that are commonly available in the area may slightly differ. On the island of Jeju, the conches size of an egg with bumpy shells are known as 뿔소라 (bbul-sora), with “bbul” meaning “horns”. They are consumed raw or cooked in various ways to feed the natives who lacked protein from meat.

Congee with conch meat

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Cubed Snailfish Soup: Day 2 of East Coast Bike Trip

Last Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) was the one to remember. I got to ride my bike along the east coast of Korean peninsula for a whole week. From Gangneung to Pohang, I soaked myself in beautiful coastline and got to try delicious seafood fare for every single meal. A trip of a lifetime, I might say.

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Bike-only path along the Korean east coast. Highly recommended!

Of many strange things I had since I returned to Korea, the lunch on second day of our bike trip would definitely go on top of the list.  Ever heard of cubed snailfish or mulmegi (물메기)? In Korean, it literally means “water catfish”. Continue reading

Butterfish Sashimi in Mokpo: Last Day of Youngsan River Bike Trip

The last bike trip of 2016 was the one to remember: from Gwangju to westcoast city of Mokpo. The route that runs along Youngsan-gang (river) goes through the province of Jeolla-do, the part of Korea famous for their unique traditional fare.

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Finally arrived in Mokpo! After two days of riding

As a way to celebrate our achievement, we decided to go for something rare and out-of-ordinary. A quick search on smartphone led us to a sashimi place nearby that serves daily catch. Today’s special: A pomfret or so-called butterfish. Continue reading

Mudfish Noodles Soup in Icheon

Located at southeast of Seoul, Icheon, Gyeonggi-do is famous for their rice cultivation. When we drove up to visit a friend I thought it’d be a good opportunity to try one of the restaurants serving rice and side dishes. But instead, we ended up on a narrow country road in which our GPS led us. There stood a little shaggy place with a sign saying that they serve food. Not just any kind of food but their speciality: fish soup with noodles.

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Mudfish soup with noodles inside

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Spicy Steamed Monkfish in Masan

The city of Masan is located in southern coast of Gyeongsang province. It is about one-hour drive away from Busan. The former provincial capital is more famous for birthplace of steamed monkfish or agu-jjim(아구찜), a regional comfort food that became national favourite. Agu, or monkfish, had originally been treated as scrap fish and was often discarded when they were accidentally caught in the net. The main reason was that the fish looked inedible–it was just too ugly. So it has only been 40 years or so since agu was cooked and served on table. And it all began in no other place but Masan.

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Monkfish is too ugly to eat? Hella no!

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