From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

Some Korean Food You (Probably) Can’t Stomach

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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:

The turtle was alive before it was washed and dropped into the boiling water, and I was in the kitchen to witness its horrible fate. T.T

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!

Don’t they look like beans? They taste a little like steamed beans, too.

Before I tell you something about the next food, try to guess what the worm~looking thing in the picture is.

HINT: It lives in sand and mud.

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.

The clams look like tiny bamboos in a bundle, right?

They’re not pocketknives, they’re clams… and they actually taste good. ^^

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 Zimmernas 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 eat hongo sashimi with kimchi, garlic, chilli paste and wasabi.

Hongo sashimi is made from Skate fish.

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!

These are raw seashells served to us in a seafood restaurant. Even when dipped into sweet chilli paste, they didn’t make my taste buds happy. =)

I have mentioned earlier that I am not crazy about sashimi, but BEEF SASHIMI is an exception. Korean beef is just so damn good, so even if it’s eaten raw, it’s still delicious.

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.  ^^

12 thoughts on “Some Korean Food You (Probably) Can’t Stomach

  1. Thank you, Chris. ^^ More power to your blog! ^^ BTW, I took the liberty of including your blog to my blogroll. I hope you don’t mind. =)

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  2. I like your blog. It’s well made. I also keep a blog to share my experiences in Korea. Keep it up!

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  5. Yup, it does take a lot of guts to get yourself to eat ’em.

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  6. Apart from the jackknife clam, I don’t think I could stomach the rest! Thanks for the heads up!!!

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  7. Korean food is becoming more popular in other countries. I believe you have bottled/canned “kimchi’ in America. My cousin lives in North Carolina and she says she buys kimchi sometimes. She really likes it. You have got to try it, too. Never mind the smell. I didn’t like it before, but now I can’t eat without it. =)

    I don’t exactly know what they do with Korean beef that makes it so tender and tasty. (I might do a reasearch on that. ^^) I guess, it has something to do with the way Koreans cook their food. For me, the best is BEEF SASHIMI… if you happen to find a Korean restaurant in the US, try one of their beef dishes. Beef ribs in spicy soup is delectable, too. Come to korea… I’ll treat you to the best restaurants in our area (pinky promise, the Korean way). =)

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  8. I agree the turtle and pupa dishes take bravery I do not have:) I live in the Southern United States. What Korean dish might I like (and be able to find!)?
    Tell me about Korean beef that is so good, if you have time. How are the beef cattle grown? What makes it so good?

    This is an engaging blog. So glad to meet you here:)

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  9. I agree with you, 박린. ^^ Most Korean food have strong smell and look unappetizing, but they’re good and nutritious. Don’t try the turtle though, it’s slimy and not delicious at all.

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  10. Actually i like the steamed silkworm pupae…they taste good…and during my birthday party i also urged some of my friends to tasted it and they liked it!!and that big shell … i tried that first time when i went in Busan with my husband…they put some spices and hot chili sauce then grilled…wow…it’s perfect…i think almost of the food pictures that posted here i ate already except that pity turtle^^yes…some foods look disgusting but if you try it…i’m sure you’re going to like it^^

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  11. Beef sashimi doesn’t taste raw at all, I guess that’s why we like it. I can’t believe you’ve tried hongo thrice! ^^

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  12. I don’t have the stomach to try the first five food in your list… however, i love “yuk hwe” or beef sashimi. I’ve also had hongo three times! Just making sure that’s really how it tastes ;p

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