Eating Live Octopus in Korea

As of December 2014, I have officially eaten the most bizarre thing of my 27 years.

Squirming, Sucking, Wriggling Live Octopus.

I am not a cautious eater. I would consider myself adventurous and open and excited to try new things. I love all food (except olives, ugh so gross!). And for me, eating food, even if it seems bizarre to some, is all apart of experiencing culture as I travel.

I was thinking really hard about what I have eaten that most would consider strange, and besides guinea pig in Peru (which really wasn’t that strange), I couldn’t think of anything.

So this takes the cake!

Eating Live Octopus

Noryangin Fish Market, Seoul, South Korea

Chris and I headed to the Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul with our co-worker, Simon. It was a very cold and dark, early Sunday morning and the market was alive, literally. Live creatures from the sea filled every aisle; Fish flopping, eels squirming and giant crabs crawling out of their tanks.

Simon walked us up and down the aisles pointing out various fish and where they came from. He was on a mission for some fish to eat sashimi style with his family that night, and we were on a mission to find some live octopus.

After a good amount of exploring, we decided on a vendor and bent over the small bin filled with 30 or so white octopi. Simon told the woman that we wanted one, and we wanted to eat it right now, alive.

Bins of Octopi at the Noryangin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea

In a matter of seconds, she scooped up the unsuspecting octopus, grabbed a pair of sharp shears and simply snipped its tentacles into bite sized pieces.

Holy shit!

I was completely taken aback. I knew I was going to be eating live octopus, but I had no time to process what was going on! Before I knew it, there was a plate of twitching octopus tentacles in front of us.

Eating live octopus at the Noryangin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea

She gave us a small dish of sesame oil mixed with chilis, and a couple pairs of chopsticks.

With no time to waste, I picked up a piece of squirming tentacle and took a bite. The tentacle was moving, and tried to wriggle its way out of my mouth, but it couldn’t compete with my strong jaw and hungry stomach.

Eatomg live octopus Noryangin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea

The meat itself was very tender. It was mildly chewy, and honestly didn’t have much of a taste on its own. When dipped in the sesame oil and chili sauce, it tasted like sesame oil and chili sauce.

With each piece I ate I could feel the octopus tentacle sticking to my tongue, and moving around in my mouth. It was a very unique experience. Never have I eaten anything that squirmed on the way down!

Eating live octopus at the Noryangin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea

Chris and I devoured the plate of tentacles as the Korean fish mongers gathered around us to watch. According to Simon, they were very impressed and said that we ate well for a couple of waygooks (foreigners)!

The experience of eating live octopus was a lot less dramatic than I anticipated, but still quite the fun occasion. I would definitely eat the live octopus again, and plan to head back to the fish market in the Spring to do just that!

Have you ever eaten anything while it was still alive? Share your experiences in the comments!