Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cooking in Korea: Myeolchi Bokkeum

The first time I tried this, it was part of the school lunch at work.  I loved it immediately, so my coworker, Jessy, shared her recipe with me.  This is a quick and easy recipe.  In the States, the most difficult part with be finding the fish.  Any Asian food market it sure to have it, or if you have a neighborhood fish shop, the patron can probably order it for you. 

The ingredients:

(Note:  Many of these ingredients can be substituted.  Read recipe for details.)

3-4 Tablespoons of oil for frying
200 grams of tiny dried anchovies (about 4 cups)
Two handfuls of chopped nuts
1/4 cup of honey or corn syrup or rice syrup
Optional: garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds

The most essential ingredient is tiny dried anchovies.  I am using sliced almonds and walnuts, but any kind of nut(s) can be used.  Sliced garlic can be used in exchange for or in addition to the nuts.

Oil for frying.  I am using plain veggie oil.  Olive oil or sesame oil can be used or whatever kind you have on hand.  I am adding a small amount of sesame oil later on in the recipe because the cooked sesame oil is too strong for my taste.  You will also need soy sauce and about 1/4 cup of honey.  Honey is EXPENSIVE in Korea, so the recipe can be altered to use slightly watered-down corn syrup or rice syrup.  Jessy generously gave me honey from her father-in-law's beehives (and in a cute container).  I'm so lucky!

Surprise!  My anchovies included almonds in the package.  One of the benefits (or detriments) of knowing very little Korean is that I often have these little surprises pop-up in my food.

Heat 3 or 4 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan.  If you are using sliced garlic, brown it in the pan before moving on to the next step.  Add the anchovies.  Toss them around until they are all lighly coated in the oil.  Allow them the fry, stirring frequently.  You will hear them popping happily away like tiny bits popcorn.

Meanwhile, crush any whole nuts.  Do you know how to crush nuts?  I was appaulded when someone suggested pounding away at nuts with a hammer.  Hammers are for nails!  The most efficient way to chop nuts is to put them in a plastic or paper bag.  Use a rolling pin to roll over them as if making a pie crust. 


When the majority of fishies are lightly browned...

...add the nuts. I am using walnuts and almonds.  I've also tried this recipe with cashews.  Yummy!  At this point, add a sprinkling of soy sauce (about one teaspoon) and, if desired, about 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil and a few spoonfuls of sesame seeds.

Give it all a good stir and let it fry for a couple more minutes to toast the nuts.

Turn off the heat.  While the bokkeum is still warm, add the honey (or syrup).  Toss.   Use enough to coat all the little pieces without drowning them.  Taste it.  Try to find a nice balance between salty and sweet.  If needed, add more honey. 

Serve as a sidedish or bento snack. 
 Thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoy this unique, Korean dish: Myeolchi Bokkeum

맛있게 드세요!  Masitkke deuseyo! 

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