Local and regional specialties add an interesting twist to any trip, and the rich diversity of dishes that can be found Korea's largest port city Busan certainly makes any visit here a treat for the senses. Spending a few days in the city sampling its culinary delights while soaking up the ambience near some of the country's most famous beaches can leave visitors with some unforgettable memories.
◆ Anchovies in Gijang
The country's biggest anchovy festival takes place in late April in Gijang, in the eastern part of the city. Local people enjoy the fish in various forms -- raw, boiled in a stew, grilled and fried -- but seasoned raw anchovies are not to be missed.
As anchovies die quickly after being removed from the sea, they are normally boiled on the boat immediately after they are caught, then dried in the sun and sent to market. This is why raw anchovy dishes can rarely be found elsewhere, making Gijang one of few places where they can be enjoyed at their freshest. Special seasoning removes the fishy odor, while hot sauce and vegetables add taste and nourishment.
◆ Pork and Rice Soup in Seomyeon
Dwaeji gukbab, or pork and rice soup, is made from the broth of pork bones and meat, to which boiled rice is added. A district of Seomyeon in downtown Busan is well known for its long history of serving the dish, which is especially popular on cold days.
Rich in collagen, which contains useful amino acids, and known for its excellent detoxifying properties, it goes down a treat with a few glasses of soju or local makgeolli (traditional Korean rice wine) to help keep the cold at bay.
◆ Grilled Clams in Taejongdae
This seaside park is a popular spot to try clams by the sea. It ranks as one of the most beautiful costal attractions in the area, and its magnificent cliffs are said to have inspired many poets.
The sweeping views and refreshing clams have long proven to be a winning combination. Locals like to add butter and a special sauce to give the clam meat more flavor, while a serving of fried rice completes the meal.
◆ Pajeon in Dongrae
Pajeon, or green-onion pancake fried with chives and seafood, is said to have been the preferred accompaniment to drinking sessions among kings of yore, and these "Korean pizzas" still serve much the same purpose today.
The popular side dish emerged from Dongrae in northern Busan and the area remains famous for this concoction of fried golden flour added to sweet green onions to stimulate the appetite. Usually cooked with an egg on top to keep it soft and succulent, pajeon also goes down well with a few glasses or bottles of local beverages.