It’s common to see opercula on the shore but not in the concentrations shown in these photos. I saw these outside a seafood restaurant, discarded as the creature is extracted from its shell.
An operculum is attached to the body of the shellfish and is used to seal it inside the shell. Wikipedia suggests that the purpose is either as protection from predators or to prevent shellfish that live in the intertidal zone from drying out. They’re no match for the Haenyo, the women divers of Jeju.
I’ve said it before but they do like sea food on Jeju, fresh and of all kinds. So lunch at Songaksan yesterday started with half a dozen abalone, still wriggling in their shells, together with a chilli dip. The waitress quickly understood that we weren’t going to contemplate eating them so brought them back cooked a few minutes later. That’s still a bit outside my comfort zone.
Next up was the cooked dried fish of indeterminate type. That’s more like it even if there wasn’t actually much meat to be had. And don’t think about all the flies that will have explored it while it was drying.
Those were just the starters: the main dish was the cutlass fish, over half a metre long although the picture below doesn’t show it. Don’t eat the head the waitress said, unnecessarily. The rest of it was very tasty.
It’s been a while since I posted any pictures of the seafood from this part of the world, so here’s a reminder – I wouldn’t like anyone to think that they no longer exist. The first four were taken within a few metres of each other in the fish market in Wando, at the southern tip of peninsular Korea and a three-hour ferry ride from Jeju. You’ll just have to imagine the smell.
And here’s one from the drying nets, arranged along the quayside, covered with fish and squid and catching the warm October sun. Naturally, the fish attract the flies as they dry but I’m sure they’ll be OK by the time they’re cooked.
This was a real treat, although I wasn’t brave enough to try all the elements. The courses kept coming, starting with the tray of mixed seafood (above), going on to the safer sashimi, followed by a tray which included shrimps and shellfish (below), then the fried fish and fried sweet potato, the sweetcorn/crab/cheese bake, the bibimbap with fish roe, and the soup, and all served with a variety of side dishes.
And here’s the sushi, Korean style, with the green of the wasabi showing through the thinly-sliced fish.
You can’t go far wrong with some photos of fish in a market. These were taken at today’s Seogwipo 5-day market and are a reminder of just how many different kinds of fish are caught in the waters around Jeju and are available for the table. Some of the fish laid out on one table were still moving.
Our nearest town is the port of Museulpo, and I’ve posted pictures of the fishing fleet before. It’s an ordinary, working, not-so-smart kind of place. I feel I should take some photos of the town before the changes that the growing Global Education City will inevitably bring.
Anyway, it’s just held a four-day fish festival. The fish theme included the chance, for the cost of 15,000 Korean Won, to put on waders, get into a big pool of water, and try to catch the fish released into the pool using just your gloved hands. The crowd enjoyed the spectacle and the guy in the top photo enjoyed posing for some photos.
There was also a children’s version in an adjacent pool in which they used fishing nets – passing local traditions on to the next generation, perhaps.
Naturally, there were plenty of opportunities to eat sea food. Some of it looked good, but some was mainly of interest through the lens of a camera.
I certainly wasn’t going to try these shellfish, roasting on hot coals and bubbling away as they cooked…
…or these ones. It looked as if you bought them by the can-full. I don’t know how you ate them – I guess you scooped them out the shells somehow.
And when you’ve had enough seafood, there were always the cooked grubs (or whatever they are), slowly simmering over a gas ring. You can buy these in the supermarket, in tins. In the supermarket in Museulpo, they’re on the shelf next to the tins of Spam.
We’ve just got back from a few days travelling on the mainland. We started by taking the ferry from Jeju to Mokpo, a fishing town in the South West.
As a fishing town, there was a fish market as well as lots of fish drying in the sun on racks along the streets.
I can only guess at how hygienic it all is. There’s no attempt to keep the flies off the drying fish, although sometimes there’s an old lady waving a stick, in a casual kind of way, over the fresh fish in the market to keep it free of flies. I should probably be under no illusions about the care and handling of some of the things that end up on my plate.
I have no idea what the different kinds of fish are. I don’t really know if I’ve eaten them, given the different forms in which they’re served.
Whatever, please tell me that I haven’t eaten any of the things below. The photo’s not so good because they’re being kept alive under water, but these really are the most distasteful looking things I’ve seen yet.
A colleague has given me a Wikipedia link:
Wikipedia says “This spoon worm is commonly eaten raw with salt and sesame oil in Korea”.
I saw this today, more fresh seafood in a polystyrene box. I don’t know about you but it just looks too bad to me, whatever it is. I don’t know what it tastes like, or how it’s prepared, and I don’t really want to know.
Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_pineapple.
It doesn’t encourage me to give it a try.
It doesn’t come much fresher than this. You point to the thing you’d like to eat, from the array of squirming, wriggling shellfish and octopus on display; the lady scoops it out of its shell with her knife, slices it up and hands it to you on a plate. I’m sure it tastes delicious but there’s no way I’m going to try anything quite so squidgy.
Jeju is said to have three things in abundance – wind, women and rocks. The women in question are the divers, who put on wetsuits and gather food from the water around the island. The story goes that they were forced into this way of life because the men of Jeju Island were so lazy. People have told me it’s still true, but I’m not in a position to comment.
The women divers are a dying breed these days. Young women don’t take it up, unsurprisingly, and the ones we saw were doing a demonstration for visitors rather than for the economic value of the catch. Judging from the deep lines on their faces, they’ve lived a tough, outdoor, life.
We’ve just been away for four days, for the Chuseok holiday. Chuseok is the Korean mid-Autumn holiday, a harvest festival when people get together with their families and share a meal together. We took a trip to the mainland, the first time we’ve left Jeju since we arrived, and I’ll post some of my holiday photos over the next few days.
So, we took a ferry to Wando, a fishing town in the south west of Korea. The coast here is dotted with islands, sometimes interconnected with each other and the mainland by bridges. Indeed, Wando is on an island and we watched ferries come and go all the time as we ate lunch overlooking the harbour on our way back to Jeju today. There are all sorts of opportunities for exploration in the future.
As you can see, fishing is a big industry, and there were fish drying in the sun, and for sale in the shops and in the restaurants. It’s still very hot here and the skies have been mostly cloudless for the last few days, so it seems perfect weather to dry the seafood. It wasn’t only fish in Wando – in the flatter areas of land nearby there are large areas of rice, and poly-tunnels, as well as other agricultural products. Nothing goes to waste, it seems…