My last night in Seoul was an adventure in its own right. A trip to the Noryangjin Fish Market. Tough fish ladies wore rubber aprons and boots, fishing giant lobsters out of the tank. Fish mongers yelled to get our attention, promising the best prices and freshest products.
I could not even recognize a lot of the sea animals that were there but beautiful they were. They made their own patterns and brilliant hues within the confines of their rectangular homes.
We perused the entire hall, making sure to not give any one vendor too much attention or even eye contact for that matter, to prevent any salesman pouncing of sorts. Finally we negotiated with a lady and got our loot of king crab, kkot gae (Korean crab), shrimp, scallops and sashimi.
We carried plastic bags filled with our dinner down the hall, around the dark corner, up the blue stairs to the restaurant whose sole purpose was to cook customers’ seafood purchases made below at the market. If you buy a whole fish you can bring it here and have it sliced into sashimi and have the head made into a spicy stew called maeuntang, meaning “spicy stew”.
We handed our leaking plastic bag over at the front counter, took off our wet dirty shoes and placed them in plastic bags, and carried them to our seat. A real diy experience. This place was bustling with hungry customers feasting, drinking and smoking. Cold Korean pilsners accompanied our assorted sashimi while we waited for a cooked goods.
The crabs and scallops were steamed while the shrimps were grilled. When we were finished with the king crab, we handed over the body so the innards could be made into fried rice with dried roasted seaweed and crown daisy greens. I don’t know what the Korean affinity is with adding rice to leftover broth or drippings is, but it’s brilliant. Simple as that.
Stuffed to the gills we left the fish market happily. The vendors were finally getting a chance to have a well-deserved feast of their own.
For my last sight-seeing of Seoul, we headed to the Han River. Sitting along the river, we took in the scenery. Dancing lights on the surface of the water , the brisk breeze. A perfect finish to a long overdue trip.