Ever opened your fridge and smelled the stank of rotting seafood? Well if you have, you’ll get a taste of what’s coming up in this entry of the Quarter Life Crisis trip: a jaunt around Jeju Island, the tropical Hawaiian paradise-equivalent of Korea.
Well, it’s supposed to be a tropical paradise, but Jerry and I admittedly thought not twice about visiting Jeju island in the dead of winter. Thus, we found ourselves shivering through rain, sleet, and hail in some of the coldest weather we’ve encountered throughout the whole 3-month trip – excellent.
Determined to make the most of our time, we managed to find a fishing charter to take us out for some deep sea fishing. Did we catch anything?
Hell yes we did. Bringing our booty back to shore, we had some aunties deftly slice up some sashimi and kimchi hotpot, and to our hearts’ contents we dined on Jeju Island’s bounty.
But without suffering, there is no enlightenment(a.k.a. “No Pain, No Gain” for millennials).
The next night, Jerry and I stumbled onto a rather unassuming restaurant. Upon entering, we were hit with the stench of rotting fish.
That was hint #1. The other hints of the dangers that lay ahead include:
-No other customers inside
-Posters on the wall from the Korean equivalent of “Man vs. Food”
-The stench of rotting fish (not to be understated)
-A big platter of… rotten fish!
Unbeknownst to us, we had just sat down and forked over $40 for the restaurant’s specialty (and only dish): Hongeo-hoe 홍어회, or raw “skate fish” that’s been left at roughly room temperature for roughly a month.
Long story short, this fish doesn’t have a urinary tract, instead having evolved to excrete its pee through the skin (similar to the way we sweat out impurities after a long night of alcoholic indulgence). This pee (uric acid), soon turns into ammonia and thus prevents the fish meat from “going bad” as it sits in Uncle Kim’s basement for a month.
As I was getting in my jammies for the night back at the hostel, I started salivating: it was time for the dramatic re-emergence of the Hongeo-hoe. Well as Jerry says about puking: you get twice the value for the same price!
Apologies for the lack of photos on this little drama: I was a little… busy.
After expelling the fish, I developed a fever for two days, but with the Coronavirus situation, I thought it best not to risk being put in a 2-week isolation chamber by an overzealous doctor.
Right as I thought I was going to meet Buddha, I recovered from the fever – thankfully.