Monday, January 18, 2021

[Food] Gwamegi (과메기, Half-dried herring and saury)


[Food] Gwamegi (과메기, Half-dried herring and saury)

Gwamegi has been a very familiar and friendly food for fishermen of the east coast of the Korean peninsular for a long time (since the 16th century) because of its taste and affordable ingredient. Its main ingredient is herring or saury (mackerel pike) which is very cheap and easy to catch. When fishermen found out about its recipe a long time ago, they made it with herring. However, when the temperature of the East Sea became affected by climate change  since the 1960s, they used saury as a substitute for herring. These days herring gwamegi is being produced again because climate change has continued to impact the East Sea. 

Saury (Mackerel pike)


To make gwamegi, fishermen remove the intestines, gills and scales of fresh saury and herring, then skew its eyes to prevent it from getting rotten. Then fish are frozen to -10 degrees Celsius, and undergo repeat outdoor freezing and defrosting from December until the fish become half-dried.

When fish is fully half-dried, its bone and skin are removed. It has a really savory, somewhat fishy taste with seaweed, kelp, laver, garlic, spicy green chili, chogochujang (red chili paste with vinegar) and ssamjang (mixture of red chili paste and bean paste).

It rarely becomes stale and can be stored for a long time so fishermen favor it. It was also a good food supply for them when they lost their ship due to invasion and robbing by Japanese pirates.

Today, this is one of the best side dishes for soju :)

People usually favor herring gwamegi over saury gwamegi because herring tastes lighter, cleaner and motr plain than saury. Gwamegi is a seasonal dish that you only can eat during the winter, which gives a chewy and firm texture filled with DHA, EPA and vitamin E :)

Today Guryongpo of Pohang is the main production area, famous for gwamegi. Don't forget to visit Guryongpo for gwamegi if you have any chance to visit Pohang :)

Bon Appétit!

1 comment:

  1. You keep churning out these incredible recipes! Thank you so much.