Sannakji Is a Live Octopus Dish That May Shock the Most Adventurous Eaters

This chewy entree called "wriggling octopus" is aptly named.

Photo: © Scott Mcgill / EyeEm

If you're a stickler for fresh sushi and have a flair for the dramatic, you may be in for an unexpected and controversial treat. Sannakji, otherwise known as "wriggling octopus," has been making the rounds on various YouTube videos for its heebie jeebies-inducing preparation and consumption. This live animal entree, most commonly found in Seoul, features a chopped-up baby octopus that is still moving — we repeat, still moving. We'll break it down for you below.

What is sannakji?

A Korean raw dish, or hoe in Korean, that features a young live octopus cut into small pieces and served immediately. This is not the food to eat after a screening of Finding Dory.

How is sannakji prepared?

With a really sharp knife and a fearless chef. Many Korean natives also eat the octopus whole by wrapping it around chopsticks and popping it into their mouths like an oversized Tootsie Roll pop.

What does sannakji taste like?

The flavor is extremely mild, but it's the slimy and chewy texture that attracts culinary daredevils. Traditionally, the legs are served with sesame oil and seeds to complement the dish's ocean-fresh aroma. For some heat, add red chile paste (because we're sure that's not going to piss off the moving legs even more).

Where to find sannakji

Sannakji is served at Korean restaurants, both internationally and domestically. You'll have to do some serious research for the latter, but a few New York and Los Angeles restaurants have it on their menus. Globetrotters can also venture to Seoul's famous Noryangjin Fish Market for a quick bite.

How to eat sannakji

Eat live octopus very carefully. Approximately six people die each year by choking (those suction cups are not going down without a fight!). Make sure you chew, and chew, and chew a little more to ensure that you won't have a very preventable and potentially embarrassing death.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles