Godeungeo Kimchi Jorim 고등어 김치 조림 (Spicy Braised Mackerel w Kimchi)

Godeungeo (mackerel) has a very special place in my heart, having eaten it every which way imaginable—pan-fried, grilled, braised, canned, smoked, you name it. But during my days in Seoul, there was this kogi jjip (barbecue restaurant) near my home that would serve this awesome dish only at lunch time for a mere $5 bucks. Cooked and served in a ttukbaegi (earthenware pot), it was seriously heaven on earth for those brief 15 minutes (yep, took me only 15 minutes to eat). Needless to say, I was a regular customer and would never tire of this, that is until I returned to the States. With my mom recently cooking up mackerel dishes, nostalgia set in and I had to make this for myself.  This dish can be a little complicated for those unfamiliar or just squirmish dealing with whole fresh fish, but most markets have frozen, degutted mackerel (although fresh would be ideal) that can be cooked immediately upon thawing. Lucky for me, I got my hands dirty with a whole one and did my best impression of a kitchen surgeon (not a pretty sight). Anyways, the mackerel is cooked with Asian radish (moo) and the usual red chili pepper varieties (gochugaru & gochujang) for a spicy but yet addicting sauce. For those who have tried this dish, the combination of fish, radish, spicy sauce, and rice is truly a one-of-a-kind taste. You can also wrap the ingredients with lettuce varieties like perilla leaves (gaednip) and red leaf lettuce (sangchu). Thankfully, it turned out the way I remembered it (hooray!) and plenty more leftovers for later. Now if I could only have access to fresh fish as I did in Korea, I would probably make this every week.

 

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Cut the radish into semi-circles like this; cutting the kimchi is optional.
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Oooh the fun part. After a good degutting and cleaning, cut the mackerel into smaller pieces, roughly 2-inches.
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Prepare the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside. It’s especially important to do a “finger taste test” to make sure the sauce has the right flavor.  If you have a combination of salty, spicy, and slightly sweet then you’re on your way.
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Place the radish, kimchi and water in the pan and cook for initial 10 minutes.
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After placing the mackerel pieces on top of the kimchi, pour the sauce on the mackerel and let simmer for a good 20 minutes, partially cover with lid.
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And the best part, enjoy with plenty of banchan (side dishes) for a healthy, balanced meal.

 

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients: Serves 4 people

  • 2 mackerel, degutted & cleaned
  • 1 Korean radish, cut into 1/2 inch thick semi-circular pieces
  • 2 cups kimchi (1/2 cup kimchi juice)
  • 2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 2 tbsp Mirin (or cooking wine)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 green onions
  • 2, 3 cups of water
  • 2 hot pepper (red and green each; optional)
  • 4 anchovies (optional; broth)

Directions:

  1. Cut the radish into semi-circular pieces about a half-inch thick.
  2. Prepare sauce ingredients and combine in a mixing bowl, set aside.
  3. In a large pot, add 2 cups of water, sliced radish pieces, and kimchi. Bring water to a slight boil on medium heat, cooking for about 10 minutes.
  4. After degutting, cleaning, and rinsing the mackerel under cold water, cut mackerel into 2-inch pieces. Add on top of the kimchi along with the sauce.
  5. Boil until the soup has reduced to half, 15-20 minutes. Do not stir the mixture, but coat the sauce over the top of the mackerel carefully. Keep lid semi-closed allowing the sauce to thicken over time.
  6. After simmering another 10 minutes, add the scallions at the end.
  7. Serve with rice and other side dishes.

*In case you can’t get fresh or frozen mackerel, you can substitute with canned mackerel from your local Asian or Korean market. And as usual with most Korean stews and soups, be sure to taste as you cook so you can adjust the flavors accordingly.

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