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Braised Mackerel, Holy mackerel

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March 10, 2011

Braised Mackerel, Holy mackerel

I like fish, fish of all kind - white or pink, fat or skinny, long or short.
Growing up in a southern fishing town, seafood was abundant on our family table. They were all fresh, nothing from canned or frozen. I hardly ever had fish that has been dead for a few days, or came as frozen or kept in coffins (canned). But there is one fish dish that I actually prefer canned over fresh. It is the braised Mackerel with radish.
Two reasons... They are tastier, and they tend to be less fishy than fresh ones during cooking. Oh! add one more. They are quicker to make, too. Oh! another one - they are ultra cheap, cheaper than fresh.
If you allow me to add one last more, you can even eat their bones. Yes, bones! They are soft enough to enjoy and offers natural calcium.

So, I ended up giving you 5 reasons why you should try the canned mackerels. I also strongly suggest to eat with cabbage for this dish. You will know why I recommended that when you taste it.
Mackerels are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential in brain growth, and help keep your blood fresh and thinner.  So good for your heart. Of course, there is a worry about mercury intake, but as long as you avoid king mackerels, and you don't eat them every single day, your body will take great benefit from these blue fatty fish of deep ocean.
Okay, let's stop talking and start cooking.


 You will need;
Canned mackerel, Korean radish, onion, garlic, Korean chili flakes, soy sauce, Korean soy sauce, rice wine, cabbage, green onion, and black pepper.

 Take the mackerel out of his coffin. Strain and reserve the juice.

 Cut up the radish, onion, green onion, and chop some garlic.

Put radish and onion in the pot and place the mackerel pieces on top.

 I forgot to add my ginger in the list. In a bowl combine all the sauce ingredients with reserved canned juice and pureed ginger.
Ginger will help boost the flavor and cut down any fish smell it might have.

 Sprinkle sauce all over them.

Let it boil. Reduce to heat to low and simmer, covered, until the radish gets soft, about 10 minutes.

"Holy Mackerel!" That was super fast!
They are done. Throw some green onion at the end.

 This is an optional but your mackerel will like the partnership with cabbage.
Just tear or cut off each leaf from the base of cabbage.

 Cook them in the boiling water with some salt, about 3-4 minutes, until soft. Drain and rinse.
That's all.

If you allow me a serving suggestion...
Place some rice, a piece of mackerel, and the radish with delicious sauce on a cabbage leaf, and wrap around or bunch it up.

Here is the dilemma...
How can I put the whole thing in my mouth?
Koreans never bite off anything that is wrapped. 
I wished that my mouth was as big as Angelina Joli's.
But I did. 
I did put the whole thing into my mouth. 

"Holy Mackerel!"
I praised it not for my capability of putting this huge wrap into my mouth,
but for the holy taste that came from this divine fish.

You better believe!

Braised Mackerel
(고등어 조림, godenguh jorim)
2 servings

1 can (14 oz) Mackerel, strained and the juice reserved
1/2 lb Korean radish, diced into 1/4" thick slices
1/2 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp Korean soy sauce
1/2 tsp pureed ginger
1-2 Tbsp Korean chili flakes
1 Tbsp rice wine or Mirim
8-10 cabbage leaves for wrapping, optional

Put radish and onion slices in the shallow pan, and place mackerels on top.
In a small bowl, combine the reserved canned mackerel juice with garlic, soy sauces, ginger, rice wine, and chili flakes. Sprinkle the sauce all over the mackerels in the pan.
Bring them to boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, covered, until the radish gets tender. Serve hot with rice and steamed cabbage leaves.

For the cabbage, Tear some leaves from the cabbage and cook them in the boiling water with some salt for 3-4 minutes until they get soft. Drain and rinse. Use these leaves to wrap around the mackerel, radish, and some rice. 

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At March 10, 2011 at 7:29 AM , Anonymous the indolent cook said...

Ooh... this post makes me want to play in the kitchen with canned mackerel!

At March 10, 2011 at 1:34 PM , Anonymous Farmer Jo said...

Wow, this looks delicious! I love sardines and other canned fish, but have never tried Mackrel. I am going to try this.

At March 10, 2011 at 4:51 PM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Thanks, Jo.
I think canned mackerel is totally underestimated fish in the culinary world. They are very flavorful and healthy fish in a can. Very affordable as well.

At March 10, 2011 at 4:52 PM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

You will love it, dear.

At March 11, 2011 at 8:04 AM , Anonymous julie (chef julie yoon) said...

Hi Holly. This is honestly one of my go-to dishes as well. You're right. It's so easy and fast, but super flavorful. I think you did an excellent job making canned fish look gourmet!


At March 11, 2011 at 7:41 PM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Thanks Julie.

At March 12, 2011 at 1:49 AM , Anonymous mei teng said...

Beautiful dish of braised mackerel. Love the last photo.

At March 13, 2011 at 5:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the Korean soy sauce you used, gook gang jang and the low sodium soy sauce just regular soy sauce? Thanks.

At March 13, 2011 at 6:37 PM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Korean soy sauce (gook ganjang) is NOT the regular soy sauce. It is thinner,
more pungent, and saltier than regular soy sauce.
For the regular soy sauce I mostly use low sodium kind which has 30% less
sodium. Therefore if you need to use regular soy sauce reduce the amount by

At March 14, 2011 at 8:07 PM , Anonymous Toki said...

Wow. I grew up with this dish, complete with the boiled cabbage. I'm off to the Korean market tomorrow.

Also, could I request a Soon doobu jigae recipe please?!

At March 15, 2011 at 6:02 AM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...


You will find the Soondoobu Jjigae recipe in my recipe index.

At March 15, 2011 at 12:40 PM , Anonymous Toki said...

Ah! I see it now - the clams threw me. Thank you!

I don't suppose there's a possible vegetarian alternative? Trying to think of anything that might replace the anchovies as a possible stock.

At March 16, 2011 at 12:27 PM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Try making stock with dried sea kelp (Kombu or dashima) instead. It will be still better than using plain water.

At May 21, 2011 at 5:56 PM , Anonymous Helen said...

 I just  made the dish for dinner - it was very tasty & spicy : )  I will continue to try your recipes!  Thanks again.  HYT

At May 22, 2011 at 9:01 PM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

I am glad to hear that. Thanks for letting me know. I look forward to hearing about other dishes as well.

At October 1, 2011 at 11:55 PM , Anonymous eatplayluv said...

I like the idea of eating it with cooked cabbage. It made the already healthy dish even more healthy and delicious adding a bit of sweetness and toning down the spiciness.
I made the dish with old kimchi so check it out here.

At December 8, 2011 at 1:10 PM , Anonymous Waggie said...

I am new to cooking Korean food so forgive my very American question right now.....   So do you eat the bones or take them out?  I am not opposed to eating the bones (great source of calcium)  I've just never seen canned Mackrel before and don't know much about it as a fish period.  This looks really good though.  Any ideas for a less spicy version for my young kids?

At December 8, 2011 at 3:33 PM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Hi Waggie
You can eat the bones but I usually take them out when I eat. You can debone them very easily. Blueback fishes like Mackerel is very good for you with lots of Omega fatty acid and DHA. The only thing you need to be careful is not to consume too often since they have higher dose of mercury than white meat fishes. Once a week is good. I like canned mackerel for their convenience and the less fishy smell during cooking.
For your kids, omit the chili flakes. I sometimes cook without any chili so that my kids can enjoy as well.
Make sure to use low-sodium soy sauce or reduce the amount since canned mackerels already have plenty of sodium in them.
With boiled lettuce and some rice, it will be pretty delcious, inexpensive and nutritious meal.


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