octopuses caught in Mokpo Jangajji Village are not only easily caught
with bare hands during the low tides, but also are a great source
of taurine (34%), phosphorous, iron, calcium, and various other
minerals and amino acids. Therefore, they have been consumed
by the local people for a long time as a greatly nutritional food.
Yak-Jeon Jung, the older brother of Yak-Yong Jung (pen name:
Dasan) recorded in his 'Jasaneobo (Record of Fishery Resources)'
that "about 2~3 octopuses will reenergize a cow that is exhausted
from doing the farm work in spring" and many fishermen highly
praise octopuses by calling them 'the mountain ginseng of the wetlands.'
Since the old times, the farmers on the southwestern coast
of Jeonnam wrapped octopuses with the cows' favorite greens and
fed them after a hard day's work. Yak-Jeon Jung, who was exiled
to Heuksan-do, must have seen this local custom and recorded about
it in his publication. An old proverb says, 'don't even feed
your dog an octopus from May or June.' This is because the
octopuses drill a hole on the wetland, lay their eggs in the hole,
breed the eggs until hatched, and die after the eggs are hatched.
As the octopuses lay eggs in June or July, they are not nutritional
in this period and should not be caught before laying eggs. Our
ancestor must have spread the above proverb also to prevent the
Vibrio septicemia from eating seafood in summer. The wetland
octopus that live in holes throughout the wetland in front of Mokpo
Jangajji Village become nutty and flavorful as they are chewed,
whereas the octopus from Yeosu region are less flavorful. When
the transportation system was not as developed as that of today,
live octopuses could only be enjoyed by the seas. When there
is a family party, the people would go to a five-day marketplace,
buy a set of 20 octopuses tied onto a rope, and roll the octopuses
onto bamboo sticks for a skewer or a stir fry. Octopuses can
be a great addition to any Korean dish: "Galnaktang" is
beef rib soup with octopus; "Nakgomtang" is beef bone
soup with octopus; "Nakji Jeongol" is boiled casserole
with octopus; "Nakji Ramen Pan-fry" is pan-fried ramen
noodle with octopus; and "Nakji Somen" is somen with spicy
seasoned octopus. In Jeonnam region, they even add minced
octopus along with fish sauce to their Kimchi to enhance the flavor
of Kimchi. Live octopuses can easily be minced and mixed with
egg yoke and sesame oil and become a great side dish for anyone.
Another special dish would be pancakes of minced octopus and
arrowroot starch batter. In this dish, egg white would only
make the pancakes slippery and not as delicious. According
to old texts on foods, octopuses strengthen stomach and intestines,
calms five internal organs, helps us energize, strengthen our muscles
and bones, and are great for lack of energy. Octopuses are
low-cholesterol and high-iron food that circulates blood and treats
anemia. "An octopus is equivalent to a kilogram of ginseng."
Octopuses are cool food that cools off our heat. They
are high in taurine that prevents and treats heart diseases. Taurine
is a type of amino acid. The main substance of live octopuses
is protein, especially essential amino acids. As live octopuses
help liver functions and balances metabolism, they are the best
stamina food for those are physically depressed in summer. Lack
of protein is a source of stress and reduces the secretion of sex
hormones to weaken the stamina. The amino acids contained
in protein circulate our bodies as the flow of electricity in batteries.
Lack of protein, in other words, means starvation of cells
and therefore, octopuses that are high in protein can revive the
cells and heighten the stamina.
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