A Classic Jeju Dish with Local Ingredient

When traveling in Jeju, one thing you do not want to miss out it the food. The island has regional dishes that are quite unlike common Korean food that you can find on mainland. Many of the dishes are made with fresh local ingredients, like largehead hairtail.

You can easily spot largehead hairtail at seafood markets in Jeju. The long, shiny fishes lie side-by-side and glitter in silver. Jeju galchi are called silver galchi because of its magnificent shine. Jeju eungalchi are especially popular in Korea. They are considered highest in quality and are more expensive.

Most common way to prepare galchi are grilling and braising. Grilled galchi is the best way to enjoy the natural flavour of the fish. Galchi is lightly salted then grilled for several minutes until the skin is crispy and golden.

Braised galchi needs a bit more effort. A spicy marinade is prepared with Korean chili. The fish is slowly cooked with mix of marinade and sliced radish. The salty-and-spicy dish is enjoyed with cooked rice on the side.

The Galchi Master in Seogwipo

Negeri Restaurant in Downtown Seogwipo is a well-known galchi specialist. They appeared on national television and now the place is packed with tourists like myself. We managed to grab a table and ordered medium-sized galchi jorim.

For W50,000, the quantity was not as much as I expected. But then again, the restaurant only uses fresh, never-frozen galchi caught in the sea of Jeju, which are considered highest of value. There are five pieces of fish smothered in red sauce. The smell is sweet and spicy at the same time.

Breaking down a piece of largehead hairtail could be a tricky business. Best way to do is:

1) slide your chopsticks down the edge of both sides, separating the bones on both ends
2) carefully separate the upper flesh from the back bone
3) use the chopsticks to lift the back bone out.
4) discard the bone and enjoy the rest

The sweet and spicy sauce goes great with plain rice. I enjoyed the soft radish with a spoonful of rice and spicy sauce all together.

Negeri Sikdang 네거리식당
20 Seomun-ro 28beon-gil, Seogwi-dong, Seogwipo, Jeju