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The squid-'sausages' of Sokcho
On my first evening in Sokcho, on the east coast of South Korea, just south of the DMZ, I went along with my aunt to the seafood market downtown. For several blocks, the bounty of "The East Sea" (Koreans insist that "The Sea of Japan" is an antiquated and imperialist misnomer) is on display, both outdoors and in a vast indoor arcade--tanks of constantly filtered seawater with everything ALIVE. Only the freshest... As I meandered through this aquatic spectacle, iPhone in hand, inhaling deeply, I saw a woman making "oh-jing-oh soon-dae," one of the region's culinary specialties. This is a squid-'sausage:' the tentacles are cut off, chopped up, mixed with rice, vegetables and spices. Then that mixture is stuffed back into the body of the squid, (its own 'casing!') and the whole thing is cooked and then sliced up. Scary-looking at first, these engorged marine arrows--but the taste and texture: perfection. Culinary examples of stuffed calamari exist around the world, (Italy, Spain, Vietnam), but Sokcho squid will always have a special place in my heart...
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