Does anyone remember PAUL, THE OCTOPUS?
Yea, am referring to the little German guy who had gained fame and glory by predicting accurately the match results for the 2010 World Cup.
Wow, has it been four years already? The World Cup’s now upon us again, and with so many unexpected outcome, I think the world needs another Paul.
Anyway, I ain’t here to talk about football; I wanna talk about san-nakji (산낙지)…!! Yea, the live octopus that’s a Korean delicacy! Some of my dongsaengs and I prefer to refer to san-nakji affectionately as Ah Paul ^^
Basically, san-nakji is live (san) octopus (nakji) which has been cut into small pieces and served immediately. The nakji pieces are usually still squirming on the plate. It can also be served whole. It is usually lightly seasoned with sesame and sesame oil.
One of my fave places to eat sannakji in Seoul is at Hyehwa! Just take the subway to Hyehwa station, come out from Exit 4 and viola!
There’re usually a few food tents right at the exit like these.
These are what the Koreans refer to as Pojang-Macha (포장마차), which translates literally into ‘covered wagons’. If you read Chinese, it translates into 布帐马车, which means wagons covered with tents, keke! I’ve also blogged about pojangmacha HERE.
Am sure those of you who watch K-dramas would be familiar with these, ya? We’ve seen way too many scenes of the leading actors and actresses drowning their sorrow at pojang machas.
Back to Ah Paul… Our usual stall manned by a lone long-haired Korean lady was not around the night we went during my visit to Seoul last month. So we went to one manned by two ahjummas.
A few of the pojang machas at Hyehwa actually ‘specialize’ in sannakji, so you can’t miss them. Ordering is also easy even if you don’t speak Korean. Just point, haha!
Each sannakji costs 15,000KRW at Hyehwa; been so for years. Just for reference, I think sannakji usually goes for 20,000KRW in restaurants. Yup, they’re all alive! And they will be chopped up really really fresh and the parts will still be wriggling when served at your table.
Whilst one ahjumma was preparing Ah Paul for us, the other ahjumma served us this (rather fishy) soup. Yea, service!! That means ‘free’ in Korean context, keke!
Coz I just had botox and filler injection done on my forehead, I had to steer clear of the oh-so-potent soju. But I could not resist ordering the beer though, hee!
They will serve dipping sauces like these.
Do remember to dip the sannakji in the sesame oil before you start chewing on Ah Paul! The oil’s supposed to make sure that the suction cups don’t cling to the walls of your throat or something after you swallow. Although the number is not alarming, there HAVE been cases whereby people have died from eating sannakji, so be careful!
Hee, we like to try placing the suction pads on our lips to experience the sensation of having the octopus’ suction cups sucking on our lips ^o^
Can’t really see how the tentacles are still moving, ya? Here, let me show you a video!
Maybe I’m brave. Or maybe I’m just weird. But I had no issues putting Ah Paul into my mouth even when I was eating it for the first time some years back. To be honest, the nakji itself is kindda bland and tasteless. All you can taste is really the dipping sauce.
So why eat it then? Coz of the sensation and texture! Hehe, I love it!
Some bits are really ‘alive and feisty’! Try it the next time you get a chance to!
Hours: 5PM – 5AM
Hyehwa Subway Station, Exit 4