It’s the prawn season in Korea (hurray!) so as seafood fans we headed off to the Sorae Port Fish Market in Incheon which is famous at this time of year for its prawns. The Soraepogu Festival was held last week. But judging by the crowds here even on a regular weekend, I bet the festival was pretty hectic!
Fish drying at Sorae Port Fish Market in Incheon
The market is not as big as Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul, but the atmosphere is completely different. The Fish Market is walking distance from Soraepogu station and takes a good hour to get to from central Seoul.
The cooked octopus on the outdoor market (above) seemed to be very popular. (I bought some too 😉 The store holders stand slicing the octopus for hours and hours as they try to keep up with the demand from the steady stream of customers flowing by. The indoor market (below) had some of the largest king crab I have ever seen and the lobster was pretty impressive too.
But since there were only two of us we couldn’t order everything we wanted! Large boxes of prawns looked good but we just couldn’t carry this much home on the train!
The large indoor section of the market is similar to Noryangjin but it has outdoor seating to accommodate the groups of (what seems to be mainly) middle aged ladies and gentlemen who come to enjoy some fresh seafood.
The stars of this season – prawns – can be steamed in their shells with salt or deep fried whole.
We had lunch on the second floor of a shikdang at the entrance to the outdoor market. Here we could sit and watch the world go by below.
The smell of frying savoury pancakes and fish cooking on outside grills wafted up towards us.
Frustrated fishermen in a hurry to deliver their seafood (still leaping around in the buckets on the back of their bikes) honk their horns as they try to make their way through the crowds.
We stayed for a couple of hours watching the constant lines of fellow seafood lovers who stop to study the variety of live, dried, raw, grilled, deep fried, and marinated seafood on offer.
It cost 40,000 won for live prawns steamed at the table with salt. (the prawns are live when they are cooked). I was SO keen to eat the prawns that I forgot to take a picture after they were cooked. So all I can do is say that they are steamed on a thick layer of salt and have a soft texture. They taste slightly sweet. The salt adds seasoning so they don’t need any kind of dip, they are just great on their own. And the peel is so fine that it can also be eaten – if you want to eat it, that is.
The prawns didn’t come with any panchan side dishes though so we ordered the raw fish set as well for 60,000 won – it comes with maeungtang, spicy soup too. The restaurant did have a raw fish set which included prawns but the waitress explained that those prawns are frozen. Fresh prawns are more expensive. But it’s definitely worth paying the extra.
Side dishes with the raw fish set include eda mame beans, deep fried prawns and squid, raw sea pineapple, and scallops. It wasn’t the cheapest seafood we’ve ever eaten but I guess you pay for the freshness of the seafood and the atmosphere of the market. I did feel like I was on holiday – just for the day – away from Seoul!
Before we left the market I had to buy some jeot (젓) fermented salty and spicy seafood. I love oyster jeot and octopus jeot. Now all I have to do for dinner from now on is cook a pan of rice and my side dishes are already sorted. That makes me so happy.