galchi jorim

Galchi Jorim (갈치조림) – hairtail fish braised in spicy sauce


I like Korean food alleys. The atmosphere is unique and authentic. After talking with my flatmate John (who is Korea-American and a foodie),  gave me a few options and I had no hesitation in choosing Galchi Jorim (갈치조림) for dinner!

The place he suggested is a famous restaurant (희락식당 – Huirak Shikdang) in the “Galchi Jorim alley”of Namdaemun market in Seoul, one of the characteristics food alleys of this market.  In the narrow alley every restaurant has grills outside where many galchi chorim pots are cooking at the same time. The smell is amazing and so inviting!

We entered the restaurant and ordered two galchi chorim and waited with impatience. Apparently this place is known among locals and also quite popular, since there are some newspaper articles on the walls about this restaurant and the tables are all filled. The restaurant is running for almost 50 years, serving one of the best galchi chorim in the city since then.

The presentation of the dish was simple: the galchi jjorim was served in a communal a bronze color tinpot, together with basic side dishes, seaweed paper in a plastic bag and rice of course.

I liked this place, is the exactly what I enjoy: a relaxed atmosphere and a restaurant focusing on quality.

John warned me that this fish had a lot of bones and had to be carefully cleaned before eating it. And since this process took some moments of dedication, felt like the fish would taste even better after that!

He slowly showed me how to proceed, as you can see in the video below:

This dish is one of the so called “rice stealers” because it tastes delicious eaten with rice and people consume a big amount of it together with the fish. The best way in fact to enjoy this fish is to eat it together with rice and sea weed as well. The taste was rich, and even if it was one of the spiciest dishes I have tried since I am in Korea, the high quantity of red pepper doesn’t not overtake the flavor of the fish.

This dish is relative simple, since it doesn’t use many ingredients: Radishes and chunks of galchi. The broth is made with anchovies and adding red chili pepper powder, soy sauce and garlic. The dish is very spicy so you will end up eating a lot of rice! Don’t worry about it and just say 밥 좀 주세요 (bap chom chuseyo) to the waitress to get a free refill of rice

We finished our portions very fast, my tummy was full and I was very satisfied. We walked our way back home (for my surprise it takes only 30 mins from my place to the restaurant) and by accident we came across a street vendor of…..galchi!It was interesting to see it for me since this fish is common in Korea and Japan, but as far as I know, is not present in the Mediterranean Sea.

 This was a great dinner, and I am glad John made me discover this dish. I love fish and galchi jorim was absolutely delicious.

Address & directions:
희락식당 (Huirak Sikdang) – 22-6, Namdaemunsijang-gil, Seoul, South Korea 
Enter Namdaemun Market from Gate no. 2 and take a right at the first intersection. Galchi Jorim Alley will be on your first left.