Today I’m going to introduce you to one of the most popular salty fermented seafoods (jeot 젓, or jeotgal 젓갈) in Korea. It’s salty, savory fermented pollock roe called myeongnanjeot. Pollock roe (myeongnan 명란) is used in many dishes in Korean cuisine, usually in stew or in jeot.
This recipe is very simple but the outcome is fantastic! When you have well-fermented myeongnanjeot in your fridge, your everyday meals will be much more enjoyable. We never eat it in large amounts or as a main dish. It’s always served as a side dish as part of a meal, with rice and soup and other side dishes. You will be excited to taste these soft, salty, and savory morsels with your meal!
You can find commercially made myeongnanjeot in the frozen section in a Korean grocery store, but I never liked the flavor of it, it’s too salty and fishy for me.
Be patient and give the seasoned pollock roe 3 weeks to ferment, keeping it in the fridge all that time. When it’s ready it will taste slightly sour with a deep flavor like fermented kimchi.
Makes about 2½ cups (a little more than 1 pound) of myeongnanjeot:
1 pound frozen or fresh pollock roe (If frozen, thaw it out in the fridge)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt
7 or 8 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes)
3 tablespoons mirim
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon peeled ginger, minced
Wash the roe:
Combine 4 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon salt in a bowl. Stir well until the salt is dissolved.
Add the pollock roe and gently wash it by hand. Put the clean roe into a strainer.
Gently rinse and drain the roe a few more times until its very clean. Drain and put them on a kitchen towel or paper towels and pat dry.
Remove any stringy stuff from the roe and discard. If any of the roe sacks are too big, gently split them into smaller pieces with your hands.
Mix and season the roe
Combine 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, mirim, garlic, and ginger in a bowl and mix well with a spoon.
Add the roe and gently mix to coat it evenly.
Transfer to a small earthenware jar or a glass jar. This amount should fit nicely into a 2½ cup jar.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons hot pepper flakes to the top of the seasoned roe. Spread them evenly and gently press them down with a spoon. This will prevent the roe from being exposed to the air and keep it from spoiling.
Cover and refrigerate for 3 weeks to ferment.
Take 2 to 3 sacks of roe out of the jar, place them on your cutting board and slice them a few times. Put them on a small bowl or plate.
Sprinkle with chopped green onion, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.
Serve with rice, soup, and more side dishes.