The Tiny Shellfish That Fed The Island

The exotic ingredients in Jeju are endless. There are so many kinds of seafood that I have never heard of before. The term “bomal“, a Jeju dialect for “gastropods”, was very new to me when I landed on the island last year.

My first interaction with bomal was not in a dining setting but actually during scuba-diving. As the divers were getting ready on Munseom, a small, deserted island south of Seogwipo, I noticed the rocks were covered with tiny shellfish that I have never seen before. They hold tightly onto the rocky surfaces and would not budge when I grabbed the shell with two fingers.

Tiny bomal flesh in my soup

Bomals were easier to collect for Jeju natives as they did not have to dive into the water. During the years when the entire island suffered from famine, bomals were excellent source of protein for many locals. Hence the people in Seogwipo said “bomals are also meat”.

A Neighbourhood Joint Serving Quintessential Jeju Fare

In a small town of Yongwang Nanduru, a family restaurant is ran by townspeople. “Yongwang” is a mythical ruler of the sea, and “nanduru” is the regional dialect for “wide open field”. The name eventually means “a wide open field where the sea king was born”.

Bomal sujebi is the signature menu at Yongwang Nanduru. Sujebi refers to kind of a Korean pasta soup. Flour dough is roughly shaped by hand then boiled in broth of choice. It is a Korean comfort food that had been replacing rice during years of poverty. In Jeju, they took it up a notch and made sujebi with bomal and seaweed broth. True taste of the sea.

Udo Peanut Rice Wine
Lots of seaweed and sujebi dough

Bomal soup without flour dough chunks is also available. People that order guk often add a bowl of rice to their soup. Bomal juk is also on the menu. A rice porridge made with bomal flesh.

Removing the bomal flesh from its tiny shell must be a tedious job. However, the flavour of the soup is well worth the effort. The yellowish-green colour of the soup represents the heartiness. A must try in Jeju.

Yongwang Nanduru 용왕난드르 향토음식 체험장
Jeju-do, Seogwipo, Andeok-myeon, Daepyeonggamsan-ro, 8