Jeju Okdom

Ark of taste
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Okdom (Branchiostegus japonicus), called Solani in the Jeju Island dialect, a very important fish for the culinary traditions of Jeju.
This fish at its peak growth reaches up to 45 centimetres long; Okdum fish have a rather small mouth; it is red in colour, turning to yellow in its stomach area. The back fin is yellow-striped. Its ideal habitat is around 100 to 300 metres down in the water, near the sandy bottom.
In the Jeju Island cuisine, the Okdom was even served at imperial tables. It is not eaten every day: in popular culture, okdom is prepared only for special occasions, like festivities, weddings or other such. There is a popular saying, “a feast without okdom isn’t a true feast.”
Okdom is cooked and eaten in various ways, for example grilled or in soups.
“Okdom-gui” is what it is called when grilled, which is highly prized by the inhabitants of Jeju because they can best taste the natural flavour and the consistency is crunchy. In order to prepare fish this way, after it is fished out, it is gutted and left to dry in the open air, then it is grilled. “Okdom-miyukguk” instead is a soup made with fish and seaweed, offered to guests at major festivities; it is also served up to pregnant or lactating women because it is easy to digest and rich in nutrients.
One of the greatest threats that put the Okdom’s survival at risk is the commercial fishing around Jeju Island. Jeju’s fishing communities usually resort to traditional, artisanal methods, using small boats and nets only in certain areas. Industrial fishermen instead use methods that are not very sustainable, destroying the seabed and not respecting the period when fishing is prohibited so the fish can reproduce.

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StateSouth Korea