Friday, May 31, 2013

Asian Eyes' Korea - Lotte Mart

              Day 7, 23/Nov/2012, 4.00 pm: With some time to spare, we went to a supermarket at the basement of Lotte World while waiting for the rest of our tour group. It will be the first time for me to visit a full fledge supermarket in South Korea and I was raring to see what was in store for us. It was a bustling shopping centers which many Koreans family or couples were shopping. The first section we went to was the fruits section. There were the usual fruits - apples, oranges, grapes, persimmons, watermelon, honey melon, rock melon, mangoes and banana. The latter two fruits were imported since they were tropical fruits, but all of the fruits were expensive, even the local ones. However suffice to say that packaging was nice though. Round the corner something interesting caught my eyes. There were 2 big trays of chestnut which were the size of a US quarter coin each. A sales attendant was pouring some chestnuts into a blender-like machine for a lady customer. When he switched on the machine, it gave a whirring sound like a blender and after 2 minutes, the chestnuts were all peeled and white. "Oh, this was a peeling machine and the chestnuts were raw", I said to myself. Initially I do not know that the chestnut were raw, and when I tried asked to ask the attendant if one can eats the chestnut right after it came out from the blender. However he just shrugged his shoulder. At that point I was not sure if he indicated he did not understand me or the chestnuts were raw. Anyway, I bought a pack of a kilo chestnuts and he had them peeled for me. 
             Next I went to the fish section to see the types of fish being sold here. They were neatly packed in styrofoam and did not smell fishy. On sale were salmon, bream, monkfish, beltfish, scad, grouper, the famed hwangtae and others non-fish like abalone, lobster, crabs, large shrimps, octopus, squids and scampi. The abalone were big and reasonably priced, but too bad I cannot bring them back. Suffice to just look and took some photo. Since the time was up, I decided to skip the vegetables section and hurried out to meet up with the rest of our tour group. Overall it was a refreshing side trip. Here are some pictures I took on this shopping trip.
Location: Lower Ground Floor, Lotte Department Store Jamsil Branch, Jamsil-dong 40-1, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
        First stop - Fruits section with Fuji apples. Fuji apple is an apple hybrid developed by growers at the Tohoku Research Station in Aomori, Japan.  It originated as a cross between two American apple varieties - the Red Delicious and old Virginia Ralls Genet apples. It is named for Fujisaki town (the location of Tohuku Research Station) and not for Mount Fuji. Fuji apples are typically round and range from large to very large, averaging 75 mm in diameter. They contain between 9–11% sugars by weight and have a dense flesh that is sweeter and crisper than many other apple cultivars, making them popular with consumers around the world. Fuji apples also have a very long shelf life compared to other apples, even without refrigeration. With refrigeration, Fuji apples can remain fresh for up to a year. In Japan, Fuji apples continue to be an unrivaled best-seller. Japanese consumers prefer the crispy texture and sweetness of Fuji apples (which is somewhat reminiscent of the coveted Nashi pear) almost to the exclusion of other varieties and Japan's apple imports remain low. Outside of Japan the popularity of Fuji apples continues to grow. Fuji apples now account for 80% of China's 20 million tons grown annually. Since their introduction into the U.S. market in the 1980s, Fuji apples have gained popularity with American consumers - as of 2003, Fuji apples ranked number 4 on the US Apple Association's list of most popular apples, only trailing Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Gala. Fuji apples are grown in traditional apple-growing states such as Washington, Michigan, New York, and California. Washington State, where more than half of America's apple crop is grown, produces about 135,000 tons of Fuji apples each year, third in volume behind Red Delicious and Golden Delicious varieties.The lady offered us small slices to sample on. They were crunchy and sweet. Nice. 
          Beside the Fuji apple were bunches of yellow banana. Banana is also called banana in Korean language, hence hinted of an imported words. Banana was imported since this tropical fruits cannot grows in a temperate climate like Korea. 
Chestnut caught my attention. They were big and looks appetizing. Question is - are they cooked? I found out the hard way.
This guy put some chestnut into a peeling machine and viola, 2 minutes later in a blender, the chestnuts came out peeled and white. I bought 1 kilo to take back.

Fresh abalone or paua. It thrives in cold water around Korea Peninsula and had since become one of the most expensive shell fish in the world.
Dried Hwangtae fish which was featured in my earlier blog about dinner at Alpensia Resort.
Octopus and its dark tale. In Korea there is a dish called Sannakji Hoe which featured live octopus that has been cut into small pieces and served immediately, usually lightly seasoned with sesame and sesame oil. The octopus pieces are usually still squirming on the plate. It can also be served whole. Because the suction cups on the arm pieces are still active when the dish is served, special care should be taken when eating sannakji. The active suction cups can cause swallowed pieces of arm to stick to the mouth or throat. This can also present a choking hazard for some people, particularly if they are intoxicated. 
Monkfish or headfish. It had a large mouth as in all angler fish and its meat from the tail is sometimes compared to lobster tail and has been alluded to as the "poor man's lobster.
Fresh cod for sale.
Beltfish or Hairtail fish or Silver scabbard fish. It can grows up to 2 meters long and interestingly they swim vertically instead of vertically. They are nice eating fish with fine texture meat but beware of their many sharp teeth.
Steam Teriyaki by the roadside, similar like Lok-lok back home. Once may choose the stick one fancy and passed to the proprietress for next step. The prices also were color coded at the end of the stick.
After the customer had selected their choice of teriyaki sticks, they were dumped into boiling water to cook them before serving.
CD for sale. Little M was looking to buy a poster for his friend. We search high a low for it, and the shopkeeper does not have a clue of what we were saying.
Found it at last - Boyfriend. Alas, they do not sell just the poster, but I have to buy the CD to get the poster for free. Little M was happy.
A shop selling Korean's toys as well as ginseng.

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