korean anchovies = sweet and salty ::::
Hey, wait! Come back!
I have been absolutely remiss. I’ve forgotten my favorite vein of cuisines in this blog so far: Asian. Most of you reading this blog at this point are expecting more of my European-inspired repertoire. Before you judge, just hear me out. I’m a corn-fed Midwestern girl. And I love this recipe. Given, my in-laws are Asian, and this has greatly broadened my cooking horizons, I eat just about anything except brain. When I say love, I don’t mean tolerance. I really mean omygosh-I’m-really-craving-some-dim-sum-style-tripe-order-more-for-yourself-because-this-bowl-is-mine kind of love.
The problem is that even though I cook Asian cuisine, I’m really picky about authenticity of what I make. I also feel that eating most Asian food without chopsticks is committing some sort of culinary sin. That makes my repertoire slim, given that the truly authentic recipes are usually not written in English, or written down. Sometimes purposely. Family recipes are heavily guarded in some homes, only to be passed on within the family.
I find this secretiveness unfortunate. Food brings friends and strangers together. It unites people. When discussing this with a friend from the Ukraine, she helped me understand it from another perspective. Many cultures rely on marriagability by the craft of a woman’s cooking. The act of securing a husband, in fact, relies on this skill. Recipes are tucked away, away from roving eyes and the potential competition.
Then I get lucky if I find something on the Internet or in a cryptic used book with English in the margins, something that uses ingredients I didn’t grow up using. I may dream of spicy tofu with pork sauce or a perfectly sweetened red bean soup to share. I love dim sum style chicken feet soaked in salty sauce. Hand over your smelly tofu. Give me your fried pork intestines: I will eat them.
This recipe makes one of my favorite banchan (side dishes) for Korean barbeque. Dried anchovies can be found in most Asian grocery stores. Find the ones which are just less than 3 centimeters in length. I find the smaller ones a little easier to chew. Secondly, make sure there isn’t added salt on the ingredient list (although the anchovies will be fairly salty already). Otherwise, the dish might taste way too salty with the added soy sauce in the recipe and you’ll be throwing it out, wondering why I’ve gone on and on about its virtues. This is a great way to get your calcium without dairy, have a salty-sweet fix, and to start building up your list of favorite banchan. My other favorites: ojingo (dried squid) with gochujang (hot pepper paste), cucumber with sesame, and gamja jorim (potatoes with soy sauce). More to come….
- 3½ ounces dried anchovies, no added salt (check the ingredient label)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon of rice wine
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- drizzle of neutral oil (for pan)
- small amount of fresh ginger, optional (I shredded less than ½ teaspoon)
- red chili flakes
- roasted sesame seeds
- Coat skillet with oil and stir anchovies over low heat until they smell cooked but not burned. Set aside.
- Finely chop garlic or put through a press.
- In a medium-sized skillet or wok, stir soy sauce, sugar, rice wine and and cook until shimmering (watch carefully). Add cooked anchovies, chopped garlic, chili, and honey. Keep stirring. When all the ingredients are well mixed, turn the heat off, and sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top. Enjoy with other banchan, Korean barbecue, and rice.