Jagalchi Fish Market, Busan

March 13, 2013


One of our favorite moments in Busan was visiting the Jagalchi Fish Market. Jagalchi is the largest fish market in Korea and even the blocks surrounding the massive building are swarming with vendors - primarily older women - who sit on stools skinning and filleting fish, moistening oysters, and haggling with customers. Oh, the things you can do! Purchase knives for dressing your fish bodies. Drink soju while your fresh fish is grilled. Sit by the sea and enjoy some live traditional folk music.

Prior to our trip, I watched a handful of videos offering guidance to foreigners new to Jagalchi: browse the stalls, find a fish you like, request that your fish be prepared while you wait upstairs in the "restaurant" section. We wandered a bit, unsure of what fish to buy. "Looks like we're in eel corridor," Ryan said, as we watched several women chopping eel heads. Nearby, a king crab attempted to escape his prison tank. 

We purchased two fish, one for hoe () - raw fish - and one for barbecue (cost: 30,000 Won). The sale final, our vendor swiftly killed one with a butchering knife. We followed our server upstairs to the restaurant, sat down, and began to eat our banchan (반찬) - cabbage kimchi, radish kimchi, spinach. The hoe was fresh but bland; we finished it out of politeness. In contrast, the barbecue was salty, crisp, and flavorful. Ryan liked when I ate the fish eye and scavenged its head. We paid an additional 10,000 Won for the banchan and preparation. Next time, I think we'll skip the hoe and have soup.

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