Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Crabs

Crab.

Oh yes. That was what I wanted.

Of course I wanted other things as well. I had mussels in hand, but I needed fish and crab as well. One thing working against me was the time of night. I’d made this journey to the market in the late evening at roughly five o’clock. The market closed in the evening...sort of. Chilseong Market stayed open pretty much all night long. After the day market closed, and the night market (where you could go and get clams and seafood all night) opened. It was lovely, and I had done it before with a bunch of teachers visiting Korea, but I wanted to make my own seafood, so simply eating at the market would not do.

With the market quickly closing I headed over to the seafood area of the market. They had all kinds of fishpretty much everything you could possibly imagine. After a few minutes of browsing I found some really nice shark steaks for 10,000 won, so I picked those up. I kept looking for crab, but was not having any luck yet. The shark was a good score.

As I walked through the market the I found an ajjuma cleaning cod. She cut the heads off, cleaned the skin and boned it for a Korean man who was standing there waiting. Then she cut it into tiny little pieces. I was not so fussed on the tiny pieces, but I was thinking that the cod would go over well what the Irish would be eating at dinner.

I talked to the ajjuma for a few minutes and ordered up two fillets. She very kindly cut the head of a fish and started to put it together for me. Sadly, before I could stop her she cut it into smaller chunks. She then tossed some salt on it, and put it into a small garbage bag. I figured with a little cooking it wouldn’t really matter.

At this point I had mussels, cockle clams, shark, and cod. This seemed like a good start to my dinner, but it was getting late. I was expecting dinner company at 7:30 and it was almost 6:10. I was striking out on the crab, which was not making me very happy. I kept walking. I was walking through the seafood market and got close to the end, negotiating some shrimp with an ajjuma, when I saw it.

Crab.

Not just a small amount of crab, either. I found THE crab shop. Here was a place where there were more then fifteen tanks, and each tank had a different kind of crab. They had king crab, blue crab, snow crab, you named a crab and they had the crab. They really knew what they were doing in the crab department.

I wanted crab.

The ajjuma and I got to talking prices.

The thing about king crabwhich weighs by itself roughly two kiloswas that it was not cheap. You were looking at paying about a hundred and twenty thousand won for just one crab. I did a price check on my phone for America and found that in the states the same crab was close to 180,000, and it was not live. Here I was looking at live king crab, drop-in-the-pot-and-die live, and for 120,000 that was not so bad.

She tried to sell me on some queen crab. We negotiated back and forth for a while, but finally I decided on the king crab. After a few more minutes the deal was done, and I walked out of the market with several things alive and dead and ready to be cooked up.

I got home and took most things out of the bag. The king crab, which was eventually named Eric, waited around while I made up some homemade bay seasoning. I marinated the shark, prepared a bolognese sauce for the mussels, and decided to just lightly cook the cod in oil with salt. I was getting everything ready and timing it all out when I got a phone call from the Artist. She would not make it before almost ten. I pushed everything back and tried to relax. While I wanted desperately to cook, I knew that eventually I would be able to have my seafood.


As she walked in I served up the first and second course, including boiled new potatoes and broccoli. As we finished I pulled the last of the drawn butter and dropped Eric into the boiling water as we all said adieu. Roughly twenty minutes later we sat around pulling off crab legs, and sucking the sweet and tasty meat out of the shell, until eventually there was nothing left of dinner but empty shells and flecks of fish with four smiling and very satiated diners around the table. All of us had had what we wanted, and I was the most happy of all, with the Artist on one side and empty crab shells on the other.

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