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Fishing for Culinary ComplementsGoing back to nature, for an afternoon at least
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승인 2009.06.20  14:48:51
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Upon arriving on Jeju, it doesn’t take long to realise where its great abundance lies – in the sea. From the fresh fish restaurants to the fisherman and haenyeo, Jeju life is enthused with all things oceanic. Despite this wealth, the only way to truly appreciate the gifts of the great blue yonder is to get out there, catch it, and eat it. All you need is a boat, a skipper and a BBQ.

The BBQ itself is easily acquired in a local mart and it is not much harder to find the others. In most Jeju fishing villages you can find someone willing to hire you a boat, and the promise of soju and a fresh fish BBQ will often land you a skipper, too. For the less adventurous, there are numerous hiring stations in the resort towns, and arguably most convenient is Hyeonsa Village, near Iho Beach. With everything in tow, you are ready to face your primordial urges and brave the wild unforgiving sea, or calm sheltered cove, as the case may be.

Those who have not fished before may have images of anorak-adorned, slowly-aging men, sat on streamside stools, fitting for Toad and Ratty from Wind in the Willows. The reality is very different on the high seas of Jeju, as the boats set off in brilliant sunshine and toasts of Cass are made as the first lines are cast overboard. Within seconds the first tugs are felt, and the lines are yanked up to port and starboard, simultaneously.

Fish of all colorations are pulled aboard, from the ugly to the slightly-less-so. Their ordeal is ended hastily, with a quick whack on the head. They are heralded as the first of the soon-to-grow harvest. After 30 minutes, 20 fish have been added to the pot, and the greedier of the crew begin eyeing up the plumper specimens. Minds start drifting to the imagined riches hoarded by Jeju fisherman, thanks to this seemingly endless source of omega-3 fatty acids.


Alas, the excess wasn’t to last, and the afternoon floated into evening with a wizened company of fish beneath the ship, picking off the dangled bait at leisure. Diligence turned to dalliance, as the ship rolled back into shore with a crew whose respect for the sea was matched in equal measure by annoyance. At the harbor, the skipper is thanked and the still-impressive catch is hauled to the beach.

As the coastal sun set on a golden Jeju evening, the sand-dwelling BBQ crackled to life and the hunter-gatherers gutted their harvest. More frustrating than rewarding, the catch surrendered little more than a processed crabstick, but to dwell on that would be to miss the point.

Looking over the grilled fish to the water beyond, all had truly learnt the meaning of “bringing home the bacon.” It transpired to be a typical Jeju day, in which opportunities are rich for those with a little “get up and go.” It was then that everyone got up, and went for a galbi.

ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published without the prior consent of Jeju Weekly.
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