In Korea, there is a must-have food in winter; ‘oysters.’ They have plump milky flesh and a refreshing sea scent that spreads in your mouth. Oysters are in season from November to early February, when the days get colder. At this time, oysters accumulate nutrients such as glycogen in their flesh, becoming more fragrant and delicious.
In the West, oysters are considered a luxury food because they are rare. On the other hand, oysters are produced a lot in Korea, so you can enjoy a hearty meal of oysters at a relatively low price. If you are a traveler who loves oysters, Korea will be a paradise for you in the winter. You can taste fresh oysters at any seafood restaurant. So, why don’t you enjoy them to the fullest while traveling around Korea?
Raw & Steamed Oysters Full of the Sea’s Scent
Oysters in season are most delicious when eaten raw. You can enjoy the soft texture of the flesh and the unique aroma. In order to get the right aroma and texture of oysters, it is best to eat them quickly, right after washing them. How to enjoy raw oysters is different between Korea and the West. In the West, they squeeze some lemon juice on a single oyster in its shell and savor it slowly. Meanwhile, in Korea, they eat several oysters at once with a dipping sauce such as vinegared red pepper paste or mustard soy sauce. Then, if you eat them wrapped in freshly made kimchi or topped with crispy cabbage leaves, you can enjoy the refreshing yet sweet taste of fresh oysters.
If you want to try out recipes other than raw oysters, 'steamed oysters' are a good choice. Well-steamed oysters are pleasant and chewy like beef, and the more cooked they are, the stronger the flavor becomes. Korean-style steamed oysters are made by steaming oysters in a large container right on the table. You simply peel off the shells and eat them when it starts to steam. So in addition to watching oysters get cooked in front of your eyes, you can have the pleasure of shucking and eating them with your hands. The beauty of steamed oysters is the clear soup pooled inside the shell. Don’ t miss the chance to slurp it up and enjoy the fragrant taste of the winter seashells filling in your mouth.
1F, Seongwon Bldg. 21, Yanghwa-ro 1-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
15:00-24:00 (Closed on Sundays)
4-minute walk from Exit 8 of Hapjeong Station
Nutritious Oyster Rice Filled with the Scent of Oysters in a Stone Pot
There is another way to enjoy oysters in Korea, where rice is the staple food. It is Nutritious Oyster Rice, which is steamed rice topped with oysters and other ingredients. It is made from rice and various other nutritious ingredients, such as oysters, jujubes, ginkgo nuts, and seeds, in a stone pot. The stone pot comes with a lid, and when you open it, the sea scent from the oysters hit your nose.
When eating Hot Stone Pot Rice, the first thing to do is to cool off the heat by taking rice out of the pot and putting it in a bowl. Then, pour hot water into the stone pot with scorched rice left on the bottom and leave it covered for a while. Then, drip a little bit of soy sauce on the cooked rice. If the soy sauce contains a vegetable called ‘dallae,’ wild chive, it will add more flavor to your bowl. Then, if you put a spoonful of the warm, fluffy rice and nutritious oysters into your mouth together, you can have a flavorful,hearty, and healthy taste of the dish. When you're done eating, don't forget to go backto the stone pot filled with hot water. The fragrant scorched rice soup will make a great dessert to refresh your mouth.
Pan-fried Battered Oysters that Taste Even Better with Unrefined Rice Wine
There are many ways to enjoy oysters in Korea. Among them, Pan-fried Battered Oysters is a recipe that nobody can say ‘no’ to. It is a dish in which an oyster is coated with egg wash and quickly fried in hot oil. As the oyster remains juicy, you can enjoy the freshness of the seafood even if it is fried. Crispy on the outside and moist and soft on the inside, you can enjoy the unique flavor that delights your taste buds with every bite.
If you sprinkle lemon juice on it, the sourness of the refreshing fruit juice will add a different taste to the dish. Dipping it in soy sauce with sliced onion cuts down the greasiness and makes the oysters more delightful. While enjoying the sweetness of fried food enhanced with the unique flavor of oysters, one cannot help but think about having a drink or two. Among others, makgeolli, Unrefined Rice Wine, one of Korea's traditional liquors, is highly recommended to pair with as the nutty flavor of the drink will enhance the taste of the dish and take it to the next level.
BF. 2, Hanna Bldg. 10, Seonneung-ro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
11:30-23:00 (Break time 15:00-17:00 / Closed on Sundays)
3-minute walk from Exit 4 of Apgujeong Rodeo Station
Korean Autumn Delicacies! Blue Crabs, Prawns & Gizzard Shads
Korea, a country with four distinct seasons, has foods that are particularly enjoyed more and best in each season. In autumn, Koreans head to the west coast to delight their palate with such seasonal foods and blue crabs, prawns and gizzard shads are considered three of the most popular autumn delicacies.
Blue crabs, prawns and gizzard shads grow plump in September and November after spawning from spring to summer. All three are difficult-to-be-farmed and you may want to taste them in season because you must wait a year if you miss the chance. If you want the freshest taste, it is best to eat them near where they are produced. If you go to the west coast, where catches are abundant, you can enjoy freshly caught wild blue crabs, prawns and gizzard shads to your heart's content.
Spicy Blue Crab Soup, a Recipe to Enjoy Blue Crabs In the Korean Way
Blue crabs known as ‘kkotgae’ are the mostly caught crab species in Korea. They are similar to western blue crabs but their lighter blue legs make them distinctive from their western counterparts. In addition, Korean blue crabs are prized for their sweet flesh. For this reason, unlike Western recipes where crabs are mainly steamed and sprinkled with seasoning, in Korea, they are often eaten boiled in soup or marinated in soy sauce.
If you want to enjoy seasonal blue crabs in Korean way, the best way is in soup called kkotgaetang. It is a savory Korean soup made with fresh blue crabs and assorted vegetables in a pot filled with soybean paste-based broth. Fresh blue crabs stuffed with sweet flesh make the broth unforgettably refreshing in taste. Meanwhile, soybean paste is a great sauce that can be used to remove the unpleasant fish smell, if any, bringing the taste of the soup to the next level. The sweet white flesh and savory juice squeezed out of the crab’s leg when you take a bite will absolutely delight your tasting buds. Why don’t you try out this recipe to get the most of out of full-flavored Korean autumn blue crabs? / Price KRW 40,000 – 50,000
Salt-Grilled Prawns Enjoyed By Seaside
Shrimp is one of the most beloved seafood all over the world because of its savory taste and chewy flesh. There are many varieties, from small cocktail shrimp to large black tiger shrimp. In Korea, there is this large-sized shrimp called ‘daeha’ known for its delicious taste. It is grows to over 20 cm. It mainly lives on the west coast and is caught a lot in autumn. So, it is recommended to try it if you visit Korea in September or November.
Salt-grill is the best way to enjoy Korean seasonal prawns in its full flavor and juiciness. Watching the prawns lined up and grilled on a layer of salt grains popping in a shallow pan will make your mouth water. Once they are cooked, just tear off the legs and peel the skin on the back of the prawns before eating. Korean prawns have firm and chewy flesh and taste sweeter when they are fresher. Salt-grilled prawns are delicious enough salt-grilled but when enjoying them with sweet and sour red pepper paste sauce, the taste is even better. It is a delicacy that can only be experienced in Korea. / Price around KRW 50,000 per kg
Delightful Taste of Fatty Fall Gizzard Shads
Fish can be enjoyed all year round, but this fish known in Korean as ‘jeoneo’ is best enjoyed in fall. In spring and summer, the flesh is soft and the bones are tough, so it is difficult to eat. However, in autumn, the taste changes for the better. This is because gizzard shads go into the preparations for winter, with plump flesh packed with healthy oils and softer bones.
Koreans enjoy gizzard shads raw, grilled or in spicy salad with fresh vegetables. Among others, charcoal-grilled gizzard shad is the way to enjoy this seasonal fish best. Its golden brown crispy skin, distinctive nutty smell and oily taste will leave you with a lasting impression. Try not to use chopsticks, but rather use your hands to take a whole fish. Its tiny, soft bones won’t bother you.
The bones can also be eaten when you enjoy it raw in slices. In fact, it tastes even better than any other fish enjoyed raw without bones when you chew it. If you are sensitive to the smell of fish, it is recommended that you enjoy it with green leaves. Put a slice of raw gizzard shad on a sesame leaf with seasoned soybean paste sauce. You will be amazed by its nutty and savory flavor without the slightest hint of a fishy smell. / Gizzard Shads Grilled or Raw KRW 30,000 – 40,000
A Culinary Trip to the West Sea Enjoyed with Scenic Views
If you want to eat Korean blue crabs, prawns or gizzard shads, you can just go to a seafood restaurant of your choice near the sea. You can order them a la carte or in a set menu. Being seasonal food, they may be left off the menu, so it is advisable to ask them before ordering. If the west coast feels too far for you, you can visit Soraepogu Port or Eurwangni Beach in Incheon. Soraepogu is a leading port in the greater capital area, and it has a fish market where you can browse fresh seafood caught on the same day. The 2nd and 3rd floors of the market’s main building are all restaurants, so it is convenient to enjoy your fish fresh right away.
Meanwhile, Eurwangni Beach lined with beautiful white sand is a great place to enjoy the scenery of the West Sea and the spectacular sunset. Make it an unforgettable trip by enjoying autumn delicacies at a nearby seafood restaurant and the breathtaking sunset at the beach.
- Public Transportation
* Departure from Incheon International Airport
: No. 301-1 Bus (Incheon Int’l Airport T1(1F. 13B)→ Eco Metro 12 Danji) – 12-minute walk / 1h 16 m total trip time.
: Five-minute walk from Soraepogu Station Exit No. 2 of Suin-Bundang Line