Saturday, April 26, 2008

Food in Masan

At the fish market 4-6-2008 2-57-35 AM

At the fish restaurant 4-5-2008 5-55-09 AM
At the Masan Fish Market. All thise fish are confusing 4-6-2008 2-55-42 AM
Our Korean Meal 4-5-2008 5-55-02 AM

Our first adventure with food in Korea was interesting. Mal’s olfactory senses found us a restaurant where we had to remove our shoes and sit cross legged on the floor. Nobody spoke a word of English. We used our picture card, pointed to a fish and indicated that they should choose our meal.
We were each given our own dish of chili sauce with a teaspoon of wasabi tucked under the lip and another of sesame sauce. Shared accompaniments were chopped sweet green pepper, chopped garlic, sliced green chili pepper and peeled chestnuts. We had a small serving platter of chicory with a vinaigrette style hot and sweet dressing and a slaw of cabbage and sliced cucumber dressed with a white hot and sweet sauce.
The first course consisted of two large prawns, two raw oysters on the half shell, dried cooked baby octopi and a pancake whose main ingredients were eggplant and zucchini.
The main course was an elegant platter of thinly slice raw fish that had been happily swimming in a fish tank when we first sat down, steamed mussels in a broth, and the grilled head of the aforementioned fish. These were accompanied by a plate of red leaf lettuce and sesame leaves, which were palm sized , looked like a stinging nettle and has a mild mint flavor. Our waitress showed us how to tear up a leaf, dip the raw fish in the chili sauce and place on the leaf and add any, or all, of the accompaniments folding it into a small edible packet.
Our last course was a freshly made egg custard which the waitress spooned into the remaining sesame seed sauce.
The entire meal was splendidly delicious. Had I realized that it was going to be a surimi style lunch I might have rejected it. Confronted with a choice of raw fish or hunger, I chose to eat the fish and I’m glad I did. I was even enjoying the fish head until the eye fell out. I generously offered the rest of the head to Mal!
All of the restaurants that we saw had fish tanks filled with all manner of live fish and shell fish, guaranteeing that all fish is 100% fresh. Would I go out of my way to eat this in New York? Probably not.
We chose beer again as our beverage. Asian restaurants don’t seem to carry a large selection of wines and I would assume from this that it is not well liked, except that Carrefours, a well know French department store that we found in China, carries an international line of fine wines. Even Wal-Mart there has a wine aisle, but I noticed that many of these were labeled “The Great Wall of China” vintage. We had already tasted a bottle of this brand with dire results.
Our appetites had not yet recovered by six thirty in the evening and so we chose to eat a simple meal in a modern Korean restaurant with high tables and chairs. We ordered a chicken dish containing sliced carrots, mushrooms, scallions, onions, potatoes and hot red peppers. It was served on a bed of with transparent rice noodles. I thought that the Irish were the only people crazy enough to eat potatoes and noodles together! The dish came with a large, heavy duty pair of kitchen scissors. Was it to further cut up the already pieced chicken? The answer was provided by the waitress. I was trying to serve myself some noodles, hot pot style, when she approached our table, borrowed my chopsticks lifted some noodles and elegantly chopped them off. Mystery solved.
This meal, like all our meals in Asia, was interesting, tasty and a complete gastronomic success.

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