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Food in South Korea: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Food in South Korea: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Food in South Korea can be seriously weird. This is not an opinion piece, this is fact. My boss just told me a new Octopus restaurant opened in Munsan today. No, it’s not a seafood restaurant, it’s an OCTOPUS restaurant, as all they serve is various types of Octopus. And if you didn’t already know this, Octopus is served to you alive, wriggling and sliming on a bed of leaves. Instead of a big ink squirting, monster that you may be able to contemplate gobbling up, why not opt for a plate of baby octopus salad… a collection of cute, baby eight-legged morsels of fun.

A popular snack in Korea, especially for hikers who are in need of some protein in a hurry, is to eat some silkworm larvae. That’s right…silkworn LARVAE served to you right off the street. Even as you walk by the street vendor this rancid waft of boiled bugs fills the air and you have to try not to gag at the sight and smell of them. Scorpion, eyeballs and yak’s penis are naught in comparison to these nasty little things. When in comes to weird food in South Korea, this is definitely one of most foul smelling!

If creepy little bugs aren’t your style, you could try taste some dried squid, probably the most popular Korean Food out there! My students won’t stop eating it in class….no matter how much I beg. It is available in every 7-11, supermarket and roadside stall you see. It is a popular snack as it is an excellent source of Selenium, (anti cancer element), Riboflavin (eliminate Anemia and Migraine headaches), and Vitamin B12 (reduce chronic fatigue syndrome). A fine replacement for a Cadburys Dairy Milk or a nice banana don’t you think?!

When I was in Busan over Chuseok, I came across something in the fish market and had no idea what it was. All I knew was that it looked absolutely gross, and if you look at it you too, surely, would find the thought of swallowing it enough to make you sick. Over the last few weeks I have seen it everywhere, in all the seafood restaurants and in big, fish tanks outside stores. It is known as ‘sea cucumber’ or ‘sea slugs’. In restaurants, they chop up the slug, still alive, into pieces that you can dip into red pepper sauce… while it is still wriggling a bit. Quite similar to the Octopus dishes, I guess. Whatever you’re into!

Saving the best for last, the dish Korea is known for, and that had caused much controversy is…dog meat, which is considered a culinary delicacy here. I’m not going to exaggerate and say that it’s ‘readily available in all restaurants’ as it’s not. But it is here and you could probably get it in any Korean town or city if you really wanted it. My boss and his wife have both tried it , never to have eaten it again. Or so they say anyway! They don’t just get any dog off the street or someones pet and cook it up..they have pupose built dog breeding centres, to provide restaurants with the meat, which actually makes it even worse. It’s really awful to think of eating dog, man’s best freind. Woof Woof. :(

BON APPETTIT MY DEAR FRIENDS!

Roxy

Friday 15th of February 2013

This was not the right thing to read while eating breakfast.

stunkard

Sunday 29th of January 2012

I'd eat the sea slugs before the dog...I can't undo seeing that!

intrepidtraveller

Monday 30th of January 2012

Yeah the dog is pretty disturbing alright. I lime to think im quite adventurous and love trying food in whatever country I go to but the silk worm larvae made me sick and there was no way I was going near the dog meat soup!!

lrntn

Wednesday 9th of November 2011

oh good lord...I have to admit that I skimmed through this real fast, b/c I'm too afraid to read and look more ! Yes, I'm that chicken...

intrepidtraveller

Wednesday 9th of November 2011

haha well some of the above are far from appetizing it must be said. Another thing I came across regularly in Korea was shabu shabu..which is a mongolian stew I think. What I hated the most about it was the way it was cooked on the table right in front of you with these HUGE Ox tail and other bones floating away in the stew. It was impossible to actually eat anything as it was full of these huge chunks of bone. Im no veggie but there sure are some things that I can't bring myself to eat!!

intrepidtraveller

Sunday 6th of March 2011

Haha yea it looks pretty cool alright!

Karen

Thursday 9th of December 2010

oh hello im korean who's been living in this country over 20 yrs. and i've tried none of them! eww.. about dog meat, when i was seriously ill, one of my relatives suggested me to have it (of course i refused. i cant even think of it!) it is considered really bad esp in our generation. i havent met anyone who's ever tried it. lol i dont think i can be a friend of them.. well i like sushi, but it is different from live octopus, cos at least they dont move.

intrepidtraveller

Thursday 9th of December 2010

It seems a lot of my students have eaten job. It really surprised me...at least half of them have tried it but Im guessing not my choice but because their parents fed it to them and they didnt question them. A few foreigners living here for a year or two have also tried it. I just could never bring myself to eat it. A lot of the time the skin is left on and it is boiled in a soup...imagine eating dog skin...GROSSS.

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