Some adventures are stranger than others.
Have you ever eaten something that was still moving? Well in Busan, South Korea, you can! In the Jagalchi Fish Market, they are constantly getting fresh fish delivered as they are right against the bay, and it is where I decided that eating a live octopus was a good idea. Here you can see both tiny and enormous octopi swimming around in their tanks, just waiting for their impending doom (aka the salivating mouths that are walking around the market for lunch). Although I have a strong desire for adventure, I am honestly an incredibly picky eater. However, when I am traveling, I know that food is such a huge part of a culture, and I want to experience it all. So I have begun to go out of my way to adventure, even with food! I decided that I couldn’t leave South Korea without trying one of these strange dishes, so I picked a tent in the fish market, walked in, and ordered live octopus.
Is it really “alive”?
“Raw” is what they call it, because it is not really alive, but it is moving! The octopi’s tentacles have nerves in them that cause them to stay “alive” for 10 or so minutes after they have been cut up. This means that your food is not only moving, but the tentacles are wrapping around the chopsticks, your tongue, and anything else they can find! It also means that they continue to utilize their suction cups too!
Ps: Keep scrolling to get to the video of the octopus AND the video of me trying it for the first time 😉
What was the experience of eating live octopus like?
When you order the dish, they chop it up and season it, and serve it to you as it’s wiggling around on the plate. It cost more than most foods and set me back about 10,000 won (roughly 10 USD), but it isn’t exactly the most commonly eaten food. In fact, it’s actually a dangerous food to eat. The tentacles suction cup to almost anything they touch, which means that if you don’t thoroughly chew your food, the tentacle can suction cup to your throat on the way down and you could choke to death. So chew well!
Everyone seems to ask me what octopus tastes like. The best way I can describe it is this way: Live octopus is chewy and tastes mildly like un-fried calamari. They seasoned it with sesame seeds and something else, and they served it with this DELICIOUS butter and lemon sauce in dish. When eaten by itself, it was interesting and ok, but with the sauce, it was AMAZING actually. I would have ordered more if I wasn’t full from snacking all day.
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Would you recommend live Octopus?
I really enjoyed the experience! Not only was it a “wow you really did that?” kind of moment, it also was really fun and unique. I walked into the tent and found myself in a traditionally Asian dinner setting as I sat on a cushion on the floor with my short table. The octopus itself was fun to eat! I had to fight with the tentacles to get them on my chopsticks. The tentacles themselves suction-cupped to my tongue. It was a similar feeling to when your feet fall asleep— that prickly, tingly feeling, except the feeling was localized to the tiny circular areas that were being suction cupped. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before, and I would HIGHLY recommend it.
You can see the (mildly unflattering) video of me eating a live octopus (aka trying this disgusting delicacy) here:
Spoiler: I finished the entire dish and it was delicious.