It was a lazy Saturday today, so after running a few errands around the neighborhood, I decided to go to H Mart. I have a few recipes I may try so I needed to pick up some ingredients. Now I live in a metropolitan area that has a large enough Asian population. We’re no Bay Area mind you, but we have plenty of representation. We have plenty of Korean representation as well. There are even a few pockets of Philadelphia and on the border of the city that could be considered pseudo-Koreatowns. Store signs are written in Korean, Korean restaurants abound, and there are a fair share of Korean food markets.
There used to be one big market in North Philadelphia and the rest were fairly smaller mom and pop shops. That’s until H Mart came into the picture. Some of you may know it as Han Ah Reum. Try figuring out how to pronounce that, my non-Korean friends. H Mart just rolls much more easily off the tongue. An H Mart moved into the neighborhood of that big market and has pretty much put it out of business. It also put out the businesses of most of the smaller mom and pop shops. There’s an H Mart in Upper Darby now, which lives where an old mom and pop shop used to be. While it is sad for the little guys, I can’t complain when the selection is better, the food is fresher, and the prices drastically cheaper.
The Upper Darby H Mart is where I visited today. It also happens to be the one Korean market that is patronized 50% by non-Koreans. Everyone has discovered the inexpensive and fresh produce there and the variety of international ingredients it carries. Now I’ve seen plenty at Asian markets, but I saw something there today that I never expected to see – a giant dead tuna staring at me in the eye. Yes, just sitting on a table. Next to it was a giant dead tuna fish head and packaged up containers of tuna. I suppose this was all to illustrate just how fresh the fish was. But seriously, if I was a little kid, I could have been seriously traumatized.
The last time I was this close to a giant tuna was on a deep-sea fishing trip off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I myself had caught a mahi-mahi, but we’d also caught our share of yellowfin tuna. Once we got back to the marina, they cleaned up the fish and bagged it up. We drove back to our rental, made fresh tuna ceviche, and ate it up. It was one of the freshest things I’d ever eaten in my life. Talk about melt in your mouth sushi. Good times…