Korean Pan-Fried Spicy Mackerel (Gogalbi)
Gogalbi is a Korean mackerel dish grilled or pan-fried with spicy chili paste. Traditionally it is grilled, but you can pan-fry to get a similar taste.
The dish I am introducing today is called “Gogalbi (고갈비)”, a spicy Korean mackerel originated from Busan. It almost sounds like express take-out Korean BBQ dish but it is not. Well, it can be, I guess.
I am a southern gal and I have to admit that I really love southern style Korean food.
If you ever visit Busan of South Korea, there is a district called Nampo-dong; very famous for their seafood street vendors and restaurants. You will smell smoky grilled fishes and other sea creatures on every little ally; Fun hang-out place with friends.
It is actually a mackerel(Go-deong-uh, 고등어) slobbered in sweet tangy chili sauce. They call it “galbi (갈비)” because it is cooked like Korean galbi and meaty like galbi.
I don’t own a open flame brick BBQ pit in my cosmopolitan cave, so I will adapt the traditional cooking method into my everyday humble skillet over the gas burner. It tastes as good as the ones in the restaurants.
Please, try this recipe! Otherwise you are missing something really, really, really, I mean really good Korean fish dish. And it is quite simple to make, as always. After all, I am a simple person.
Ingredients You Need
Here are the stuffs I use to make today’s recipe.
These are frozen mackerel fillets, individually wrapped.
Only 3 fillets in the package…, some people just don’t like even numbers.
Wash some rice to make rice starch water by reserving the milky water that has been used to wash the rice. You only need about 2-3 cups.
For the detailed instruction, check out my rice starch water page for more information.
Drown your frozen fishes in the rice starch water for 20 minutes.
#1 : They are salted in the package, more than you need. Need to get diluted.
#2 : As they’re thawing, the starch water will reduce the fish smell during the cooking.
Please, don’t ask me for the food scientific reason how it works, because I simply don’t know, but it works like a wonder.
Spicy Chili Sauce
Meanwhile finely chop your garlic and ginger so you don’t get bored while waiting.
In a small mixing bowl, combine garlic, ginger, chili paste, chili flakes, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
Now here is the problem that I am encountering because none of you will be able to find this ingredient outside of Korea. It is a type of extract called “maeshil jeup” – the home-made kind. I could never find this anywhere in the U.S.
Sweet tangy syrup that comes from the green plums. This is NOT a plum sauce or juice! So I will give you the substitution. Use lemon juice with corn syrup instead.
How to pan-fry Mackerel Fish
When 20 minutes are over, Deliver your fishes out of water and pat them with paper towel.
Gently coat them lightly with corn starch on both sides.
Shake off the excess.
Heat some oil on the skillet over medium heat.
Sear the skin side for 3-4 minutes until it gets NGB-nice golden brown.
Flip and sear the flesh side for 3-4 minutes, too.
You can tell it’s got nice crisp texture on the skin side. Yum…
Flip back so the flesh side is staring at you.
Important! Reduce heat to low.
Drizzle 1 Tbsp of sauce on top.
Spread around to cover.
Put the lid on or cover with aluminum foil and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
This will set the sauce on the fillet nicely.
While waiting slice some onions and scatter them on a serving platter.
Now, hurry up and grab a bowl of hot freshly cooked rice.
Don’t miss this Holy mackerel!
Your leftover turkey will get jealous.
More Mackerel Recipes
Korean Pan-Fried Spicy Mackerel (Gogalbi)
- 3 mackerel fillets, salted and frozen
- 2 cup rice starch water, See note below
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 cup sliced red and green onion , for garnish, optional
For spicy chili sauce:
- Take the frozen mackerel fillet out of package and soak in the rice starch water for 20 minutes to thaw.
- Meanwhile make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients.
- Take the fillets out of starch water and pat with paper towel to dry. Coat with corn starch lightly on both sides.
- Heat oil in the nonstick surface skillet over medium heat. Sear the fillet, the skin side first, for 3-4 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 3-4 minutes as well.
- Reduce the heat to low, and turn the fillet again so the meaty side is facing you. Spread the sauce over the fillets all around, about 1 Tbsp per fillet. Cover with lid and simmer for 5 minutes so the sauce can set on the fillets.
- Place fillets over onions on the platter and serve warm with rice. Enjoy!