12.338 Ggongchi-Kimchi Jjigae

Cycle 12 – Item 338

9 (Thu) December 2021

Ggongchi-Kimchi Jjigae

3.5

by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

In Korea, pike mackerel (ggongchi) is available in canned form.  Whole fish are cut into thirds, cooked, packaged in brine solution.  Typically added to a braise or stew (e.g., kimchi jjigae) (see for example 6.243 Ggongchi-Kimchi Jjigae).

While shopping for ingredients to make ggongchi-kimchi jjigae – partly in response to GK’s recent effort (see 12.336 Toast Skagen), I discovered that Dong Won, the dominant brand of canned seafood, now offers canned ggongchi made specifically for use in kimchi jjigae.

The standard version is straightforward.  The fish tastes like pike mackerel, enhanced by the brine.  The brine solution tastes like mackerel-flavored fish stock.  (GMTD-exclusive secret: as a late-night snack, I love eating these right out of the can.)

The new version is a bit weird.  The fish tastes like pike mackerel, but with a big kick of spice, imbedded in the flesh, like it was injected with chili essence.  The brine solution tastes like spicy, oily fish stock with a slightly artificial aftertaste.  According to the nutrition label, this version contains much more chemicals, and calories.

I didn’t use a recipe (not even my own).  In the end, it came out to: 1 liter water + 800 grams kimchi (a bit more 3 packed cups) + 1 cup of kimchi juice + 400 grams (2 cans) canned mackerel + brine solution + 2 TB of Spicy Bulgogi Sauce + 2 TB Yeondu + 2 TB fish sauce + 1/2 tsp ground black pepper + 1 tsp ground white pepper + 1 cake dubu + handful of chopped scallions.

My old recipe calls for squeezing the juice out of the kimchi, setting it aside, sautéeing the drained kimchi in sesame oil (to intensify the flavors), then reintroducing the kimchi juice along with water.  Here, I dumped everything in the pot at the same time (no pre-sauté), so no need to squeeze out the juice, but I did so just to see how much of each went into the dish.

In theory, I suppose that a pure rendition of kimchi jjigae would be seasoned with just the kimchi itself, maybe a touch of soy sauce, as my older recipe suggests.  But these days, I’ve been experimenting with condiment cocktails, which are kinda cheating, but whatever.

This may have been my finest kimchi jjigae ever.  The broth was a perfect balance of tang, with a rich base of mackerel flavor.  The fish were tender and succulent, explosive umami – the ones from the red can were more spicy than the surrounding broth, so that was kinda strange.  Good job, me – and thanks to GK for the inspiration.

What I like about canned ggonchi is that the bones, through whatever process, become so soft that the fish can be eaten as is.

Since I’ve always preferred mackerel to pork in kimchi jjigae, and I’m reducing meat consumption overall, I hereby retire the old recipe.

(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)

(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)

Leave a Reply