Hangul: 낙지볶음; Nak-ji-bok-um
English Name: Spicy Stir-fried Octopus
Literal translation: Octopus Stir
This seafood dish marks the start of the separation of those who like seafood from those who LOVE seafood. Nakji bokkeum is chopped octopus and mixed veggies marinated in a gochujang based sauce. This sauce gives the dish that sweet and spicy taste is consistent with most gochu jang based meals.
So how bout the octopus? Well flavor-wise, it doesn’t really stand out in this particular dish. The sauce somewhat takes over the saltwater/seafood tastes you would normally get. The texture however, is the real difference maker. Over cooking octopus will result in a tough, chewy piece of meat. But correct preparation results in a soft, tender, lightly chewy texture.
The art of properly preparing octopus maybe the reason you’ll see far more restaurants that specialize in nakji bokkeum than you will it’s squid counterpart, ojingeo bokkeum. As with many spicy foods, the dish is often mixed with rice during consumption to balance out the intense flavors from the sauce.
It’s funny to think about the wide range of reactions I’ve from those who aren’t accustomed to the sight of octopus tentacles in their food. Some have been excited and eager to give it a try and others have been so completely grossed out it made them sick to their stomach. I personally like octopus but have always been a bit partial to squid.
Have you ever tried nakji bokkeum?? Let us know what you thought of the experience in the comments. Also, feel free to check out the rest of the Seoulweaver Daily Dish Descriptions.