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Oerigul-Jut (Salted And Spicy Oysters)

Posted March. 22, 2002 09:06,   


● Going To Kanwol Isle

Let us travel to Oerigul-Jut’s place of origin, Kanwol Isle of Chungnam’s Seosan. Oysters are in the right season since last winter there. In case of Oerigul-Jut, especially, fresh taste can be enjoyed until late April. There is a proverb in the west, which says it is better not to eat natural oysters in months that have no alphabet-`r` (May – August).

One may step into the muddy beach with plastic boots. As feet sink into the mud, the smell of sea tickles the tip of nose. At the borderline with water, there are women who peck oysters. They take less than 3 seconds to break the shells and put oysters in baskets. Shiny oysters inside baskets look delicious even without vinegared-chilly sauce.

Not only so. Various kinds shellfish touch the feet inside the mud, and the scene of nameless migratory birds cracking them is quite easily seen.

Oysters look different form the ones at markets in Seoul. They have less of the black color and are less fat. Due to the big range of tide, Kanwol Isle’s oysters stay in water for half a day and in shore for the other half. They are famous for the peculiar chewy taste.

Kanwol Isle can be reached within 2 to 2.5 hours from downtown Seoul along the western-coast highway. One may drive past Seohae Grand Bridge, through Hongseong IC, and proceed towards Anmyun Isle pulling out towards `Hyundai Construction AB-region seawall` to see the beach.

● Where To Eat?

6 or 7 restaurants around the Kanwol Isle’s shore sell Oerigul-Jut along with various oyster-dishes and sliced raw fish. One of the good places for visitors from Seoul is `Ottugi Restaurant` (041-662-2708). `Gul-hoi (20,000 won)`, which has various vegetables like apple, pear, and carrot mixed in vinegared-chilly sauce, tastes excellent, watering the mouth. After eating sliced natural raw fish (20,000 – 40,000 per serving), Maewoon-tang (hot soup) may be served with Oerigul-Jut, which adds more taste. Another delicacy is seashell soup boiled with oysters and noodles.

`Keunmaul Gul-Bab Restaurant` (041-662-2706) is famous for its nutritive `Gul-Bab` (oyster-rice). It is made with dates, chestnuts, carrots, mushrooms, walnuts, and gingko nuts put into oysters and rice. It comes in the same form of `Nutritive Dolsot-Bab` from Seoul, but with the unique taste of natural oysters. Oysters are highly digestible, and that is, perhaps, why one dish is not enough to fill a stomach. Soup with mixed seaweeds, oysters, and seashells is served also. 8,000 won.

`Seommaul Kanwol-do Oerigul-Jut` market (041-669-1290,1) sells freshly packed unseasoned Oerigul-Jut for 9,000 won per kilogram, or 17,000 won for 2 kilograms. Nationwide deliver is possible with parceling services, and the charge may cost 1,000 – 3,000 won.

In-Jik Cho cij1999@donga.com