Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Seoul Food Girl: eating abalone on Jeju Island

The fresh abalone in Jeju is famous in all kinds of dishes such as porridge and stews.
This article can also be read at KoreaTaste.org and  seoulfoodgirl.com 
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A seafood stew with abalone.
  Growing up in California I knew what abalone was, but only because it was on the endangered species list. While snorkeling at a young age in San Diego, we were told as children to never take abalone from the sea. Black abalone is protected as an endangered species throughout the California region due to a 99% decline. That is why upon visiting Jeju Island I was shocked to learn that the island's most famous delicacy is abalone.
    I am not quite sure what kind of abalone is pried from the deep rocks on Jeju. After tons of research I was unable to come to a conclusion on the species of abalone on the Island. If anyone knows, please leave a comment. However, I did learn that some restaurants are turning to farm raised abalone because of the cheaper price.

After hiking at the famous Seongsan Ilchulbong head to a nearby restaurant.
    Whether or not the abalone on Jeju is endangered, there are tons of delicious dishes to choose from when trying the sea creature. One of the best is a seafood stew which includes clams, prawns, mussels, abalone, and other seafood all served in a steaming bowl of bright red chili soup. Plucking the abalone out of the shell is the most difficult task out of any of the seafood on the menu. The small snail-like creature is wedged far into the shell, and won't come out without a fight. I actually managed to have a shell go flying across the restaurant while trying to extract the meat with my chopsticks! The abalone tasted unlike anything, but it had a similar consistency to oysters. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they were, but the chili did take away from some of the fresh seafood taste.

Try out this restaurant which was packed even on a cold winter day.
    A great restaurant to try abalone is located directly behind the UNESCO World Heritage Site Seongsan Ilchulbong. After hiking up the mountain first to work up an appetite, head down to the main road and you will find tons of seafood restaurants. You may stumble upon the restaurant pictured to the left which has the fresh abalone stew. Served with bowls of rice, and plenty of side dishes and lettuce this meal might be your favorite on the entire island. A meal will range between 10,000 and 20,000 per person.
    Be sure to check out the women divers who are responsible for plucking all of the fresh seafood from the waters of Jeju. They dive without any oxygen tanks year round, and the most shocking thing of all is that they are all much older women. The women divers are famous throughout Korea, and many think they are crazy to use such old diving techniques in such a modern society.

One of the famous women divers coming back to land after fishing.
If you have any questions or comments about "Seoul Food Girl: eating abalone on Jeju Island" please leave them in the comment box below or email goneseoulsearching@gmail.com
Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at goneseoulsearching@gmail.com.

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Creative Commons License
Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at goneseoulsearching@gmail.com.
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