Myeolchi Bokkeum (“Myeolchi” means anchovy, “Bokkeum” means pan-fried) is a traditional Mit-Banchan that is still widely loved today. “Mit” means bottom or foundation. “Banchan” is a side dish served with rice at every meal. So Mit-Banchan means fundamental side dishes served at every meal.
A typical Korean meal consists of a bowl of rice, a main dish, a soup or stew and a few different banchans. By having pre-made Mit-Banchan’s in your fridge, you don’t have to cook several side dishes for every meal. People often make a big batch of Mit-banchan and keep it in the fridge for weeks. Then it’s served at daily meals along with other freshly made banchan’s. Mit-banchan is usually saltier than other banchan’s, so it’s eaten a little bit at a time, with rice. The saltiness preserves the dish for a long time.
Myeolchi Bokkeum is salty but it has really nice sweetness to it, so even kids love it. It’s a great way to enjoy anchovy which is high in calcium. It’s also popular as a lunch box item because it can be served as it is right out of fridge.
This recipe features very fine anchovies called “Jan-Myeolchi” (“Jan” means tiny or fine, and “Myeolchi” means anchovy) which can be found in Korean markets. Sometimes green chili peppers or nuts are added. Medium-sized anchovies can be used as well but the seasoning is usually less sweet and gochujang or gochugaru is often added to create a spicy version.
Myeolchi Bokkeum, Candied Mini Anchovies
- 1/3 cup Roasted nuts Chopped, your favorite type, optional
- 1 tsp Garlic Optional
- Optional step: Place anchovies in a stainer and shake to remove powder. This is not required but gives a cleaner texture.
- Pre-heat a non-stick pan. Add vegetable oil.
- Optional: You can add garlic with oil and cook for 30 seconds. But I personally skip garlic often.
- On lower medium heat (e.g. 4 our of 9 levels) cook anchovies while stirring frequently. Be patient and cook until anchovies turn golden and completely dry and slightly crispy. If you do it on too high heat, it will burn.
- Turn off the heat. Add water, soy sauce, sugar and mix thoroughly.
- Turn back on the heat. On low to low-medium heat, melt all the sugar without burning.
- Turn off the heat. Add mulyeot (korean malt syrup), roasted chopped nuts (optional) and sesame seeds.
- Transfer to a airtight container immedicately as they will get harder and clump together as they cool.
- Store in a freezer and thaw out or microwave for 10-30 seconds before serving. (But do not over microwave. It will burn the anchovies fast.)You can store in the fridge for about a week or in a freezer for months.