Thursday, February 4, 2021

[Food] Agwi-jjim (Steamed Monkfish, 아귀찜)


[Food] Agwi-jjim (Steamed Monkfish, 아귀찜)

We all know that we should not 'judge a book by its cover' but people usually do when they encounter many things in the world. However, I would recommend you do not judge food by its looks, if you ever visit Korea. You will see ugly ingredients often tasting very delicious.

Agwi (Monkfish, 아귀) is a typical ugly-looking fish that is caught in the east coast of the Korean peninsula. In the past, it was usually thrown back into the sea or used as fertilizer or cooked in the form of soup for poor people, but it turned out to be an excellent seafood side dish for soju-drinkers after one old lady with a lump in her face in Masan city cooked monkfish into a steamed dish with Korean spices.

February is the best season for eating agwi-jjim (steamed monkfish) because they are usually fed up and fat before March and April, which are their breeding season. The flesh of monkfish is very chewy and full of high protein and vitamin A with abundant zinc and iron. In particular, agwi-ae (liver of monkfish) contains soft fat; its texture is very silky so people call it 'Foie gras of the sea'. Please don't miss it or others will take it before you do. Monkfish is among the most expensive fish in Korea these days.

The chopped meat of monkfish is steamed, then mixed with warty sea squirts, spicy and sticky sauce, bean sprouts and water parsley. Masan is the origin of agwi-jjim, but Gangneung is also famous for agwi-jjim that is made of freshly caught monkfish. Today agwi-jjim is a typical home meal in Gangneung. Its only difference with Masan style agwi-jjim is more shitake mushroom and water parsley.

Bon Appétit!

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