In a new video from FuelTV’s show Strangers In Danger, BMX-pros-turned-travel-show-hosts Zach “Catfish” Yankbush and Mike “Rooftop” Escamilla find themselves in Korea to sample sannakji — the Korean word for octopus. In other octopus-eating countries, the eight-legged marine creatures are usually cooked before human consumption, but in Korea they are traditionally served live.
You may have seen other travel/food-show hosts take on this Korean culinary challenge to the Western World, but Yankbush and Escamilla take it to another level: by eating live octopuses whole — right out of a tank. As you can see in their video, they had to strategically plan out how to accomplish this task, with the threat of the octopus choking them from inside with their legs’ strong suction cups. The BMX duo got around this risk by chewing on the head first — which didn’t exactly bode well for one of them.
Yankbush and Escamilla may have been a bit extreme(!) with their culinary antics, but in actuality, eating live octopus isn’t such a sloppy or squeamish affair. I’d sampled sannakji myself in Seoul in a more traditional and civilized manner, where the octopus is taken live from the tank, cut into easier to eat bite-sized pieces, and served onto plates along with the regular banchan side dishes of kimchi and other vegetables. (You can read more about my trip to Seoul at The Global Trip.)
The whole octopus is served, from the roe to the brain — considered the coup de grâce of the meal — but the most visible part are the legs. While technically dead, the octopus is still very much alive; the muscle movement in the octopus’ legs remain active for quite some time, squirming like worms on a plate, with the suction cups still very active. They cling onto the plate, the table, the chopsticks — even the roof of your mouth if you don’t masticate them down before swallowing.
I have to say that eating live octopus was really good after I’d gotten over the movement of them; I’m a fan of fresh sushi and it’s pretty much the freshest you can get. Whether or not I’m ready to be as extreme as Yankbush and Escamilla has yet to be determined. Actually, it has been determined. I’m not.