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Chilgaejeotgal is a traditional South Korean food from Gochang-gun made up from ghost crabs (or “chilgae”) crushed in a grinding tool called a “hwakdok.” The residents say that the ghost crabs are most flavorful during the fall, as during the rest of the year they have a very fishy taste. The chilgae are caught and ground in a hwakdok along with various vegetables such as peppers and garlic. Seasonings such as “jayeom” salt and red pepper flakes are added to the mixture. After four to five days of fermenting, the mixture becomes chilgaejeotgal, which looks much like “ssamjang” (seasoned soybean paste). The residents would usually eat chilgaejeotgal by mixing it into rice. However, it can also eaten served on top of rice and wrapped in cabbage, lettuce, seaweed or kelp. When chilgaejeotgal is mixed with rice and a splash of sesame oil is added to it, one can feel the unique traditional taste of the southern provinces as the flavors of the ocean combine with the rich taste from the jayeom.

The mudflat of Simwon-myeon, Gochang-gun is inhabited by a variety of different crab species such as fiddler crabs, three-spined shore crab and blue crabs. Chilgae, the ghost crab, was the crab eaten during the time of year when people worked longer hours on the mudflat between the summer and autumn season. It is said that Geomdanseonsa, who founded Seonun Temple 1500 years ago, taught the people in the region how to make jayeom by boiling seawater, which is used to produce chilgaejoetgal.

These days, it is uncommon to find people catching ghost crabs like in the past due to the large amount of time and effort required to do so. Chilgaejeotgal has therefore also become difficult to find. The residents of the area tend to collect shellfish which are more profitable. People do not catch the ghost crabs primarily because it is not profitable and so the related food tradition is being lost.

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StateSouth Korea


Other info


Fish, sea food and fish products

Nominated by:Lee Gwang Jae e Kim Jae Mok