Monday, April 5, 2010

Natural By Themselves Will Wear the Sauce

Koreans eat live octopus. I hear it's yummy. And if you go to a seaside restaurant and order sashimi, often the octopus will come for free! as "service". These aren't giant flabby purple things but petite translucent creatures; these baby octopi are cut up and then served immediately so that they're still wriggling their grippy little appendages... protesting with each bend and flex the termination of their lives and their fate as novelty food, as their frantic acrobatics amuse and amaze and sicken tourists tempted to eat them... The name for a bowl of wiggly baby arms is sannakji.
Here is a visual for you. I will not be eating this. Or, at least I won't be eating this without powerful persuasion-- either from alcohol or a native Korean who wants me to appreciate their culture. If you pull the culture card it can be hard for me to say no. Nakedness in the public baths falls into the same category of "I'd Really Rather Not... but Then There's This Respect the Culture Thing, Sooo (Dammit) Hmm..."
My co-teacher-- the one I'm considering nicknaming Button (as in 'as cute as')-- told me that preparing to eat sannakji takes very little effort. You don't need to pick an arm up with the chopsticks; instead, you just hold a chopstick above one, and it'll climb aboard and wrap itself around your stick. And then you don't need to work to dip it in your sauce; just put it close and the octo-arm will move and swish in the sauce by itself. The way Button described it, word for word, was "put it close and they natural by themselves will wear the sauce." Suit up!
I've heard that sannakji can be difficult to wrangle into your mouth- you can miss, and it'll grip the outside of your cheek or something. Haha what if it SLAPPED you: "There's no changing my fate, but at least I'm gonna slap the sonuvabitch on my way out."
Once it's in your mouth, give it a mighty and thorough chew. If you don't kill the sucker (pun!) between your teeth, it might cause some problems for you when you try to swallow. I wonder what would happen if you just ate it whole without chewing, and it was still alive as it slid down your esophagus... is the inside of your stomach ticklish?


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  2. The live baby octopus thing is really not ok!!! What if some asked you to eat them while naked in a public bath? That would be a lot of culture vs. Gina-instinct.

  3. Also, I really regret watching the youtube clip. I imagined them to be much, much smaller. And somehow less... squishy-slurpy. Honestly, my mental imagine was the little pink octopus from Find Nemo, sliced in half.