Wednesday, August 7, 2019

[Food] Gejang (게장, Marinated Crab)


[Food] Gejang (게장, Marinated Crab)

Soy Sauce Marinated Crab
Crab is a very welcome and popular ingredient for any cuisine in any country, and Korea is no exception. Many Koreans enjoy eating crab, and the most favorite and common recipe is 'marination' in soy sauce or spicy chili paste. 

Blue crab, freshwater crab and hairy crab are usually caught from rivers and seas in Korea. Their soft, creamy and sweet texture has been loved by Koreans since the 17th century. 

Koreans call it 'Gejang (게장, Marinated Crab. 'Ge' means crab and 'jang' means marinated seafood), and there are two recipes; soy-sauce or chili paste marinated gejang.

Spicy marinated crab
Gejang recipe is not hard but you need a lot of ingredients: Crab (obviously), soy sauce, water, rice wine, kelp, anchovy, shiitake mushroom, onion, green onion, black pepper, red chili, and you can add medicinal herbs such as cinnamon, milk vetch root, angelica root etc. for a healthier and better taste.

1. Clean crabs
2. Pour all ingredients, except crabs, into a big pot to boil
3. Put crabs into a sauce of no.2, marinate it in a cool temperature for 3 days to eat.

Korean food experts have been long attesting to Koreans' skills in vegetable and seafood marination and fermentation to store and eat for a long periods. Consequently, gejang was also invented to be stored and preserved longer. Fresh crab is usually caught far (Yellow Sea and rivers) from inland, and sold to customers. Salt-marination was inevitable for merchants and cooks.

Seafood shop-and-barrow sell soy sauce and spicy gejang
Soy sauce marinated gajang has been eaten by all Koreans from the king through to common people since 1600s. It needs to be marinated for three days before being eaten. On the other hand, spicy marinated gajang had been eaten after the Korean War. Spicy marinated crab doesn't need the marination process. It can be eaten straight after being mixed with spicy sauce so some people like it more than the traditional soy sauce recipe.

Soy sauce marinated freshwater crab

Soy sauce marinated crab, it's filled with meat and egg
Ganjang-gejang is marinated in soy sauce  and Yangnyum-gejang is a spicy sauce marinated in crab. Gejang gets its nickname 'Bab-doduk', which means 'Rice-thief', because gejang is so delicious and salty and makes people eat more rice than usual.

Marinated crab meat

Rice mixed with soy sauce in crab shell, gejang lovers are crazy about this 'gejang rice'
Gejang is famous in the western provinces of South Korea (Chungnam, Jeonnam provinces and Paju city). If you are a seafood lover, how about tasting some ganjang-gejang (soy-sauced one) and yangyum-gejang (spicy sauced one) at a market in the western province of South Korea? I'm sure you will soon fall in love with gejang :)

Bon Appétit!