Hello everyone! My, it has been long, hasn’t it? I blinked and it’s almost November! After nearly a month-long visit, my parents left the other day to return to the motherland. I’ve been pretty blue the last couple of days, but I think I’m finally coming out of it — I actually think it gets harder the older I get.
As you can imagine, a lot of good ol’ fashioned Korean home cooking was had during that time. So much so, in fact, that I wasn’t able to document nearly enough as I wanted to because I was too busy eating. :P But of course, I had to share one of the basic Korean banchan (side dishes) that is pretty much one of the starter banchan you have as a kid: myulchi bokkeum.
There are two main varieties: soy sauce-based and hot pepper paste-based. This one is the former — my O loves to have this simply with rice, he loves it that much! I tried my best to document the measurements, but as you all know, that didn’t last very long as we adjusted the seasonings pretty much up until it was done. The key points you want to look for are: sweet ‘n salty taste; deep golden color; sticky, crispy texture. If you feel you are getting tired stirring that wooden spoon, don’t let up! It’s important to keep the heat on the myulchi to get the moisture evaporated from their iddy biddy bodies.
Myulchi Bokkeum (enough banchan for a couple of months!):
- about 3 cups of dried anchovies (the small, not tiny, ones — and not the large ones used for broth)
- about 1/3 cup sugar (this is really to taste though! You do want enough to give it that caramelized crunch)
- about 2-3 TB soy sauce (again, to taste)
- about 1-2 TB sesame oil (ditto)
- about 1 TB sake or cooking wine (helps eliminate some of the raw fishy smell)
- about 1/3 cup corn syrup (=mulyut in Korean)
- sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Add the myulchi to a colander to shake out any excess debris/dust.
2. Using a large skillet over medium heat, toast the myulchi until it starts getting crisp — this will take a few minutes, so be patient!
3. Start adding the sugar (you’ll probably add more later) to coat the myulchi. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon.
4. Add the soysauce, sake and sesame oil one by one. Keep tasting :)
5. Add the corn syrup last — this is the must-have ingredient that gives the myulchi its signature gloss. You’ll want to turn off the heat at this point.
6. Keep stirring until the myulchi get toasty brown and crispy. Some people (me) prefer theirs crispier like chips.
7. Pack in a classic Lock & Lock or any similar Korean banchan storage container. Keeps well in fridge for months, but always best fresh!