Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market (노량진 수산시장), or Noryangjin Fish Market for short, is one of Korea’s largest seafood markets.
Noryangjin Fish Market sells all sorts of seafood, from lobsters and crabs, to sea cucumbers and sea squirts. ?This market is open year-round and has been since it first opened in 1927! ?The market itself is open 24 hours a day, but the wholesale auction (for restaurateurs, chefs, and seafood enthusiasts) starts around two or three in the morning. ?Don’t worry though- you can still find great deals on fresh seafood later in the day!
Before you go to Noryangjin, it is best to do a little homework: Look up the Korean names of the seafood that you would like to buy, and, if you can’t tell the difference between an oyster and a scallop, bring a few pictures of what you’re looking for. ?Also, do some research to see which types of seafood are in season. ?For example, in the winter months, gray mullet, salmon, flounder and other types of flat fish, are in season and very delicious raw. ?Various shellfish, like scallops and oysters, are best consumed during the cold months as well. It is ill advised to buy fish to be consumed raw, in the hot summer months of June through August.
The interior of Noryangjin is very cold, so dress appropriately! The large amounts of ice that the fishmongers use to keep the fish fresh make Noryangjin feel like a giant icebox. ?The floor of the fish market is always wet and sometimes slick with fish scraps. ?And, you may even see a fish trying to make an escape by flopping out of a tank and onto the floor! ?Make sure you wear warm and comfortable shoes, and preferably something that can be rinsed off later. ?(The fishmongers themselves wear knee-high rubber boots.)
You can pick a fish (on ice or from a tank) and have the fishmonger clean and slice the fish for some really fresh sashimi. ?The fishmonger can either package the sashimi to go, or you can enjoy it with some soju in one of the various restaurants adjacent to the fish market. ?Some fish stands also sell ready-to-eat sashimi platters as well as sushi boxes, all for much less than what you would pay at a restaurant. ?The restaurants at the fish market offer a nice respite from the cold. ?In the winter months, the floors of the restaurants are heated, so that you can take a seat on the floor and warm yourself while eating some delicious seafood. ?If you purchased a fish, nothing from the fish is wasted. ?The restaurant can take the leftover pieces (head, tail, and bones), add in some vegetables, and make it into a nice, piping hot stew, for you to enjoy with a bowl of rice.
You can haggle with the fishmongers over the price, but in general, the prices at Noryangjin are about 25% cheaper than at a supermarket. ?Sometimes, you can get a discount if you buy in bulk or use cash instead of credit card. ?And, it doesn’t hurt to be nice… You never know if a fishmonger will throw in “a little something extra” just because he or she likes you!
This winter, be adventurous and make a trip to the Noryangjin Fish Market! ?Once you get past the cold (and the fishy smell), you’ll enjoy a wide selection of the freshest fish in Seoul. ?With over 800 types of seafood, you’ll definitely want to make a few trips so that you can eat some of your favorite seafood, as well as try something new.