Why It Works
- Toasting the anchovies in oil makes them more aromatic.
- Caramelizing the sugar adds depth of flavor.
- Soaking the gochugaru in liquid "blooms" the chili flakes and improves their flavor.
Myeolchi bokkeum is a classic Korean banchan consisting of stir-fried dried baby anchovies coated in a sweet-spicy-savory glaze. Served at cool room temperature, this side dish is light and refreshing, perfect alongside spicy Korean barbecue, hot and cheesy fire chicken, a hearty bossam spread, or as part of any simple weeknight dinner. (It's also a very good snack for any time of day.)
This recipe comes together in minutes, and the glazed anchovies keep quite well in the fridge. So while it's ideal for serving alongside a full Korean meal, it's also perfect for sprucing up a desk lunch, as a snack with drinks, or just to tide you over before dinner.
- 1 tablespoon (8g) gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) (see note)
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) water
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30g) gochujang (Korean chili paste) (see note)
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (50g) Korean dried baby anchovies (see note)
- 2 tablespoons (30g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon (10g) sesame seeds
In a small bowl, whisk together gochugaru, water, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Whisk in gochujang and garlic. Set aside.
In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add baby anchovies and, using a flexible spatula, stir to evenly coat in oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until anchovies absorb oil, dry up and smell aromatic, about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle sugar over anchovies and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until sugar melts and evenly coats the fish, about 2 minutes. As the sugar begins to caramelize, take care not to let it burn; if sugar begins to scorch, move the pan off the heat or lower the heat while stirring constantly to control the temperature.
Add gochujang mixture to skillet, and stir to evenly coat anchovies; return pan to medium heat if it was taken off to prevent sugar from burning.
Cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any sticky bits on the bottom of the pan, until dressing reduces slightly and evenly glazes anchovies, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and stir to combine. Divide anchovies between small individual serving bowls and serve, or transfer to airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.
8-inch nonstick skillet, rubber spatula
You can purchase gochugaru, gochujang, and dried baby anchovies at Korean markets, at well-stocked Asian grocery stores, or online. For more information about these ingredients, read about the essential pantry ingredients for Korean cuisine.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Myeolchi bokkeum can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before serving.