Jeotgal at Noryangjin Market in Seoul

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest post from Kpopaddict. She’s brave enough to tackle a subject that a lot of us love but don’t have the chops for.

What Exactly is Jeotgal?

Jeotgal is a popular Korean dish mainly used as a condiment or seasoning. It consists of various type of seafood, such as shrimp, shellfish, oysters, squid, whole fish, fish eggs, and the intestines of fish. The seafood is salted and fermented, and often replaces soy sauce or salt in certain dishes.

Depending on the contents, jeotgal has a variety of names; saeujot is jeotgal made with shrimp, gejang is jeotgal made with crabs, and so on. All of the varieties can be classified as jeotgal for simplicity’s sake, but regional varieties and ingredient differences in Korea lend to different names.

Jeotgal as a condiment is usually used in Korean cuisine to accompany kimchi and used as a dipping sauce for pork dishes. Jeotgal as a salt or soy sauce substitute flavors Korean stews and soups, especially seafood stews and soups which are common in Korean cuisine.

One might think that jeotgal is destined only for uniquely crafted Korean dishes, or as a condiment for Asian foods like rice with kimchi. Jeotgal is incredibly versatile, however, and lends itself far outside of Asian cuisine. Experimentation is a key ground for using it successfully, but infusing a clam chowder with jeotgal is just one example of possible fusion cuisine.

Benefits of Jeotgal

As jeotgal goes through a fermentation process, the finished product contains probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms found within a variety of foods; however, current market trends popularize adding probiotics to other foods. Probiotics regulate intestinal movements, lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, and a variety of other benefits. The salting and fermentation process of jeotgal encourages the growth of probiotics, making jeotgal an excellent food for the health-conscious.

How To Make Jeotgal

  • Clean seafood of your choice, and rinse thoroughly. Place seafood in a stainless steel bowl with a small amount of water, rubbing the seafood all over generously with salt. Cover and leave refrigerated for six hours.
  • Prepare the sauce for the jeotgal. Combine ganjang (Korean soy sauce), sesame oil, minced scallions, minced garlic, ginger, sugar, lemon juice, and shredded red chili pepper. Boil together briefly, until the ingredients mingle properly.
  • Pour the hot liquid into the bowl with the seafood; allow the bowl to sit for an hour.
  • Empty the liquid back into a pot, boil again, and pour it over the seafood in the bowl.
  • Repeat the process four or five times. Finally, discard the liquid. The seafood is now jeotgal!

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