Busan located on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula is home to Jagalchi fish market, the largest in the country. The market a short walk from Jalgachi station is lined with stalls selling any fish or creature imaginable or nearly unimaginable fish living under the sea.
The market is really an assault on one senses, the smell of the fresh seafood to the sights of octopuses squirming their tenticles in bowls of water, the poisonous fugu were on display to the bizarre giant sea cucumbers that if squeezed squirt out their water. The market also had sashimi, slabs of whale meat and sharks were for sale.
Shark’s head and shark meat
Each morning the fisherman bring in their daily catches to the market and while their boats are out at sea it is the fishermans’ wives who are looking after the stalls. The market is exclusively ran by these women known as ajumma.
These middle aged, strong hardworking women are always colourfully dressed with bright apron, gloves and rubber boots and are very skilled multitasked workers. They can scale fish, cut the innards as well as slice and dice the fresh seafood while at the same time aggressively try to make a sale to the people walking by or to entice a person into the attached restaurant by shouting out today’s specials and pulling on the people’s jacket.
While at the market we recommend that you have a meal at one of the stalls in the market. If it’s a good restaurant there won’t be any need for the ajumma to pressure you to eat there as there will be many people already eating. Like most market stalls always eat at a stall that has lots of people or locals eating there to help ensure that it serves good food as well as safe food.
After walking the length of the outside market we went back to where they served lightly fried mixed fish, the only fish we knew for sure was flounder but the flesh was so white and meaty. It was one of the freshest fish we had ever eaten. Like other Korean restaurants the fish was served with abundance of small side dishes of pickles, kimchi, rice and soup.
The market also has an indoor market which was very quiet and lacked the atmosphere that the outdoor market had.Apparently this area of the market is a lot busier in the early morning when restaurateurs come and buy the local fish at the auction.