Braised Korean mackerel and radish is a beloved Korean fish dish. Learn how to make this delicious fresh mackerel without the fish odor.
Mackerel is a beloved fish in Korea. Out of many mackerel dishes, this Korean braised mackerel and radish (godeungeo jorim, 고등어 조림) is perhaps the most well known and popular one among Korean home cooks.
Mackerel pieces are topped with a slightly spicy chili seasoning sauce and cooked with slices of Korean radish. It is actually a very simple recipe and the outcome is enjoyable. You will love the tender and flaky meat mackerel offers.
Interestingly, my favorite part of this dish is actually the radish. The mellow and almost sweet Korean radish is what Koreans call a “rice stealer” (bap doduk, 밥도둑).
What is a “rice stealer?” Some dishes are so tasty that you can’t stop yourself from eating it. Since most Korean dishes are eaten with rice, you will unwittingly consume a lot of rice. Soon you will look into your bowl and think, “hey, where did all my rice go?” You can blame the delicious “rice stealer” dish!
This recipe serves only 2-3 people. You can easily double the recipe and feed the entire family. Serve this braised mackerel with freshly cooked rice and one or two Korean side dishes. You will enjoy the true taste of Korean fish. Yummy!
Worried About That Fish Odor?
I know fish dishes are not everyone’s favorite. Some people are hesitant to cook with fish because they worry about the fish odor while cooking or a fishy aftertaste.
With my recipe, you won’t have to worry about these issues. I will share some good, simple tips how to prep the fish to minimize the fish odor. You can do it!
How To Choose Fresh Mackerel
A good fish dish should always use the freshest fish possible. Mackerel is known as an oily fish with healthy fat – think of omega-3 fatty acid.
The best way to tell mackerel is fresh is by smelling it. If it smells sour, avoid it. Also, look for clear and bright eyes. If the mackerel has dull or grey eyes then it has been out of water a very long time. Finally, look for a vivid and shiny skin tone.
If the mackerel is not very fresh, it is probably still safe to eat, but it will have a strong fish odor.
You might worry about fish odor when using the whole fish, including the head. And it’s true, some fish create a fish odor during cooking no matter how well the fish has been cleaned.
Mackerel is notorious for its fishy smell, but I will share a tip that can minimize the smell and give you peace of mind.
How To Prevent Fish Odor
It’s simple: use rice starch water. What is that, you ask?
Rice starch water is basically the water that you used to rinse the rice. Just collect a few cupfuls of starch water after you rinse your rice.
I can’t explain scientifically how the rice starch water reduces fish odor, but it works. My mother always used this method, as do many other Korean cooks.
Besides, you will want to eat this braised mackerel with radish dish with rice, and you will need to wash your rice anyway, so there’s no extra work involved. Please go to my How To Make Rice Starch Water page for an easy tutorial.
Soak the well-cleaned mackerel pieces in rice starch water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and proceed with the rest of the recipe. That’s all. Simple, right?
Ingredients you need: mackerel, fresh green chili, garlic, green onion, Korean radish, onion, ginger, soy sauce, Korean tuna sauce, Korean chili flakes, sugar, and pepper.
Cut Korean radish into 1/4-ich thick slices. Slice onion thinly. If you don’t have a Korean radish, use daikon radish or turnip.
Combine all the chili seasoning sauce in a small bowl and mix well.
Scatter the onion on the bottom of pan, and place radish slices evenly. Spread half the amount of chili seasoning sauce on top.
Place mackerel pieces on top of the onions and radish, then spread the remaining sauce on the mackerel. Sprinkle chili slices on top.
Put water in the chili seasoning sauce mixing bowl and swirl around to collect all the residue inside the bowl, then pour it into the pot.
Cover and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until radish is softened. Sprinkle with chopped green onion. Serve warm with rice.
As I mentioned earlier, my favorite part of this dish is the radish. Of course, there’s no doubt that mackerel is so flaky tender and delicious. You won’t smell any fishy odor at all.
The soft mellow Korean radish soaks up all the good flavor. Try it with rice! And you will know why it is called “a rice stealer” (bapdoduk, 밥도둑).
More Fish Recipes
- Grilled Fish with Soy Lime Chili Sauce
- Mexican Fish, the Rodrigo-style fish
- Spicy Yellow Croaker Fish Stew, Jogi MaeUn-Tang
Braised Mackerel With Radish
- 1 whole mackerel fish well-cleaned and cut into 3-4 pieces
- 3 cups rice starch water see note below
- 10 oz Korean radish thinly sliced
- 1/2 large onion sliced
- 1 fresh chili sliced, optional
- 1 green onion chopped
- Soak the well-cleaned mackerel pieces in rice starch water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile make the seasoning paste. Combine chili flakes, soy sauce, tuna sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, and pepper in a small mixing bowl.
- In a shallow braising pot, scatter the onion on the bottom of pan, and place radish slices evenly. Spread half the amount of chili seasoning sauce on top. Place mackerel pieces on top of the onions and radish, then spread the remaining sauce on the mackerel.
- Put 1/2 cup of water in the chili seasoning sauce mixing bowl and swirl around to collect all the residue inside the bowl, then pour it into the pot.
- Cover and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until radish is softened. Sprinkle with chopped green onion. Serve warm with rice.
- Rinse your rice with water briefly. Pour out the water and discard.
- Swirl the rice around rapidly with your fingers for 15 seconds to remove starch from the rice grains.
- Pour about 3 cups of water to the rice and rinse.
- Collect the milky rice starch water in a bowl and add the mackerel pieces.
- Continue to rinse your rice 2-3 more times. Cook your rice by your usual rice cooking method.