Junchi Kimchi

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Junchi Kimchi

Kimchi fermented with “junchi” or white herring is a dish that has long been enjoyed along the western central coast of South Korea, in areas like Asan and Pyeongtaek. The taste of junchi is unique, but the fish contains many small bones making it difficult to eat. If the fish is added while making kimchi during the fall, the bones melt away as the kimchi ferments, leaving only the soft, chewy meat ready to eat the following spring. It was because of the chewy, soft flesh that it was served to elders as a nutritious dish. Along with junchi, large-eyed herring or “baendaengi” was also used as an ingredient for kimchi. Baendaengi kimchi would sometimes be fermented for three to four years. Usually, rich families used junchi rather than baendaengi, while the latter was used most often by commoners. Nowadays, baendaengi is more generally used as junchi is becoming scarcer.

Junchi is called by various names such as si-eo, junchi-eo, and jun-eo. Also, it is said that there are no other fish as delicious as junchi, giving rise to the saying, “it’s junchi even though it’s rotten” (referring to the highly appreciated taste of the fish even after the fermentation process). Junchi comes close to shore only for a short period around the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. This species has relatively large scales compared to other white fleshed fish and is called “jin-eo” or “real fish” because it known as one of the most delicious fish, despite having a lot of spiny bones.

Recently, the amount of junchi being caught has dramatically decreased, making it one of the most valuable fish in the market. Junchi kimchi, however, is not produced commercially, but only for personal uses or in a few resturants. Due to the fact that kimchi made with junchi must be fermented for a longer period compared to conventional kimchi, it is a dish that is much rarer nowadays. Due to the decline in junchi numbers, it is not possible to produce large quantities of junchi kimchi.

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Territory

StateSouth Korea
Region

Gyeonggi-do

Other info

Categories

Vegetables and vegetable preserves

Nominated by:Gye Song Lee