[Hallyupedia] Jeotgal

Hallyupedia / 연합뉴스 / 2022-04-17 17:47:30
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by Ra Hwakjin / Haemin Kim

[ENG] fermented food salted with the flesh or eggs of shrimp, shellfish or fish.


▲ This photo, shows myeongnanjeot. (Yonhap)

▲ This photo, shows Jeotgal eaten with rice. (Yonhap)


Jeotgal is a representative fermented food in South Korea made by fermenting shrimp, shellfish or fish's flesh, intestines and eggs with a large amount of salt at room temperature for a certain period.

While it is mainly eaten as a side dish with rice, it is also used to make kimchi or to season food.

According to Doosan Encyclopedia, broadly, Jeotgal also includes “sikhae,” which is made by marinating fish with rice, salt, red pepper powder, malt or Nuruk, and “Aekjeot” (fish sauce) which is made by grinding jeotgal into liquid.

During the fermentation process, the autolysis of the fish becomes decomposed by microorganisms creating a savory, unique flavor.

According to the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture from the Academy of Korean Studies, the first jeotgal is recorded in 『Samguk Sagi』 during the period of Sinmun of Silla as Jeotgal was included in the list of pyebaek (Korean wedding custom that is traditionally held a few days after the official ceremony, with only family members present) when King Sinmun of Silla married Queen Kim. The Encyclopedia of Korean Culture interpreted this to mean that jeotgal was already a major basic food during that time.



▲ This photo, shows women offering saeujeot. (Yonhap)


Although Jeotgal is delicious as it is, it shows its true value when it is used as an ingredient to make Kimchi. Food columnist Park Jeong-bae, introduced in a newspaper column that Joseon’s administer, Sajae Kim Jeong-guk (1485-1541) wrote in his book, “I made a seokbaji with saeujeot (salted shrimp) and cucumber,” and said that this line is the first recorded use of jeotgal in Kimchi.

◇ Different types of jeotgal according to the main ingredient



▲ This photo, shows 4 different types of jeotgal. (Yonhap)


▲ This photo, shows ojingeojeot. (Yonhap)


Jeotgal is made with various types of seafoods including fishes and clams. A few representative examples could be myeongnanjeot (pollack roe cured in salt with care taken not to puncture the sacks), ojingeojeot (sliced squid cured in salt and seasoned in hot spices), and guljeot (salted and seasoned fresh oysters).

Nakjijeot, made with octopus, Myeolchijeot, made with salted and fermented anchovies or saeujeot which is made with shrimp and is often eaten with pork are popular types of jeotgal. Apart from that, there are many other types of jeotgal according to the main ingredient including Galchijeot (cutlassfish), Kkolttugijeot (Beka squid), Jogaejeot (clams) and Hwangseogeojeot (Small Yellow Croaker).

◇ Places around the coast and ports famous for jeotgals has been developed with festivals also being held

South Korea is surrounded by the sea on all three sides, and as cold and warm currents intersect in the coastal waters, the seafoods are abundant and diverse. For this reason, various types of jeotgals have mainly developed in coastal areas or in inland ports.

Today, one of the most representative areas to produce Jeotgal is Ganggyeong Port, located in Ganggyeong-eup, Nonsan-si, South Chungcheong Province. Ganggyeong Traditional Salted Fish Market, the largest Jeotgal market in South Korea is also located here with more than 30 jeotgal stores that have large crypt storage facilities.



▲ This photo, shows the poster for “Ganggyeong Salted Seafood Festival” for 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

While Nonsan city hosts “Ganggyeong Salted Seafood Festival” every year, in 2019, the festival was cancelled to prevent the African Swine Fever, and in 2020 and 2021, it was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, this festival being held this October will an offline festival in four years.

Buan-gun, North Jeolla province also holds the “Gomsojeotgal Fermentation Festival” every year ahead of the kimchi season.

Jeotgals are seen in other festivals centered on local seafoods, such as the Gijang Anchovy Festival in Gijang-gun, Busan and Kkangdari Festival in Sinan-gun, South Jeolla province.



▲ This photo, shows the reenactment of the Hwangpo sailboat in the 12th Maponaru Shrimp Festival. (Yonhap)


In Seoul, “Maponaru Shrimp Festival” is held every year in Maponaru, where Gaekju (middlemen) in the Joseon Dynasty received and distributed jeotgal from various jeotgal producers around the country including Ganggyeong, Gwangcheon, Sinan, Ganghwa and Sorae. In this festival, Hwangpo sailboat that used to carry jeotgals for Maponaru are also reenacted.





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