The day my father~in~law brought home a kitten, I was so happy I could jump out of my skin. The day he brought home a turtle, I was so sad I actually cried. I cried for two reasons. First, the turtle was brought home for dinner, not for me to have as a pet. Second, he made me eat it and it looked like this:
That was not the first time I ate something in Korea that I couldn’t stomach. The first time I came here, five years ago, my friend urged me to eat beondegi (번데기), steamed silkworm pupae. It’s a common Korean street food. That time, I wasn’t told what I was eating. My friend just told me to try it, and since I was gullible enough to believe that it’s a kind of bean, I ate it. I almost spit it out when she said that I was eating a pupa!
Before I tell you something about the next food, try to guess what the worm~looking thing in the picture is.
You’ve probably guessed a kind of worm or a parasite, but nope, it’s a clam. They call it bamboo or jackknife clam because of how the shell looks like.
I am not crazy about raw food like sushi and sashimi. I can eat sushi without wasabi but NEVER AGAIN will I eat sashimi, especially Hongo sashimi (홍어회). Hongo sashimi has got to be the most egregious food I have ever tasted in my entire life, no kidding! Aside from the fact that it’s RAW and ROTTEN FISH, the smell of ammonia produced by the fish’s uric acid (in other words, pee) is just despicable! In fact, it was described by Andrew Zimmers, “creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel‘s hit series, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern“, as horrific, nasty and harsh. It’s one of the most expensive food here in Korea, but I’d rather not waste my money on something that smells like the hydrochloric acid I use to clean our toilet.
(You may want to skip to 3:10 to see Andrew Zimmern’s Hongo sashimi treat.)
Koreans seem to fancy raw food a lot, and since my husband is Korean, I have tried most of them from fish to seashells… even beef!
Have you ever swallowed anything squirming in your mouth? Well, I have… twice! Another kind of sashimi that’s expensive and famous in Korea is sannakji which consists of small LIVE OCTOPUS that has been cut into smaller pieces and is served right away, so that they’re still moving as you put them in your mouth. I almost choked the first time I ate it. If you are going to try sannakji for the first time, you have to be very cautious, because the suction cups on the tentacles are still active and can stick to your throat when swallowed. As a matter of fact, there have been several incidents of sannakji choking reported in Korea.
(See them wriggling!)
So there you have it folks… some Korean food you (probably) can’t stomach. Some foreigners in Korea, however, have tried them and enjoyed them. After all, there must be a reason why most Koreans love the food I have featured in this post. ^^
- Some Korean Food That Will Make Your Mouth Water (chrissantosra.wordpress.com)
- Andrew Zimmern Eats Cow Placenta, Taking Afterbirth-As-Superfood Trend To A New Level (blisstree.com)
- Andrew Zimmern eats Seattle’s moldy sausage (maybe?) (seattlepi.com)
- Interview: Bizarre Food’s Andrew Zimmern (blogcritics.org)
- Andrew Zimmern checks out Bizarre Foods in U.S. (pbpulse.com)