Friday, July 14, 2017

WTF? Hagfish. Who in Hell Eats Hagfish?

They're the deep ocean's sanitation department.  You may have seen teeming masses of hagfish gorging themselves on the decomposing carcass of a great whale, a process that can take upwards of a year or more. They're slimy, disgusting creatures which made it even more surprising when video surfaced of an Oregon road after a truck overturned spilling 3400 kgs. of hagfish.

I had to find out just what in hell anyone was doing commercially fishing for hagfish. Sure enough there's an answer:

Hagfish are a type of non-vertabrate chordate--not a true fish, but not a true invertebrate. Locally called meokjangeo (먹장어), or "slime eel," they are only eaten only in Korean cuisine--mostly in Korea, but sometimes by Korean expatriates in Japan and California.

Hagfish are chewy, with a softer spinal chord that runs through their back, and have a mild taste, with an unpleasant aftertaste. Though unpalatable to foreigners, they are popular in Korea, where they are usually eaten by men as an aphrodisiac. For that purpose they are considered by Korean men to be interchangable with eels, an unrelated animal with a similarly phallic shape but remarkably different taste and texture.

An adventurous eater seeking to try one will have no trouble finding them in Korea, where seafood is displayed in large glass tanks. But the travel-limited culinary xenophile might also be able to obtain them directly from fishermen in California, and prepare then as described, using a hot plate instead of the traditional Korean barbecue set up.

To prepare them, they are sliced down the middle to remove the digestive tract, then marinated in a sauce used for Korean barbecue. Traditionally, the raw fish are then placed on a heated plate at the center of the table, where they are cooked and served like galbi, using scissors to slice the hagfish up. The cooked fish are moved to the side of the dish, with lettuce and gochujang, no amount of which can mask the animal's distinct taste. The head, containing the skull is left on the fish, and if a foreigner dines with Koreans, the honor will be offered to the foreigner.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that they are also popular eaten raw.


Anonymous said...

Anyong....and the Japanese as well eat that disgusting beast.

Toby said...

Koreans eat many things that you and I would shy away from. I suspect is that the various Korean wars were so devastating that people simply ate whatever they could find. This presages our future as the world food supply shrinks.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when lobster and prawns were considered consumable by products to the main catch of the day.
Cod was/is the choice of fish and chips.
Now we dredge the ocean for hake and pollock not only for fish and chips but for tsurimi which is the basis of fish fingers.
Krill, the diet of many whales is now being used as a health supplement and on it goes as we dumb down the supposed quality of the food we eat.
We are to the point where we are directly competing for food with the food we eat!
Anchovies for farmed salmon ,herring for fertiliser to grow crops ,
maize for auto fuel( it was a cattle food) the crazy cycle to the bottom of the food chain just goes on.

Some day these revolting hagfish may be served at the finest restaurants ; well those that still exist.


The Mound of Sound said...

TB, that's all true. There's a fishing port/processing plant about half a mile down the road. I was over there last year to get something for dinner and I saw the boats unloading an unusual sort of fish. As the extras slopped over the bins the gulls waiting around wouldn't touch them. I wondered if they were hake. The deckhands confirmed they were indeed. When I asked why they were after such a garbage fish they replied that hake were still abundant and now commanded a decent price. Then I asked what anyone does with them. The quick answer was that they're processed, flavoured and sold as cod or pollock. And that is what's called "fishing down the food chain."

Anonymous said...

There are few regulations on the sale of white fish.
Almost anything can be called Cod.
I believe that some whitefish we consume in Canada comes from as far as the coast of Africa.


Bishwa said...

wow really ... is that so