Sunday, February 19, 2012

KOREAN RECIPE: Sweet and Crispy Kodari (Half-Dried Pollock)

코다리 강정 (Kodari Gangjeong)                                                by RaOn
                                                                                                 trans./ed. by Onsemiro  

Kodari Gangjeong,
Sweet and Crispy Half-Dried Pollock  

Kodari or Codari (코다리) is degutted, half-dried Pollock, which are one of Korea’s most favorite and popular fish.  It’s been said the fish was named myeongtae (명태明太) after a fisherman called Tae seobang(태서방, “Mr. Tae”) who was the first to ever catch the fish in the country, and also after the legion called Myeongcheon (명천明川) of Hamgyeongbukdo Province where the fisherman lived.  When the ancient Koreans caught an unidentified fish in the river or in the ocean, they never ate it without giving it a name.  So Mr. Tae followed the rule and brought the fish to gwana (관아, "provincial government office").  There, saddo (사또) or gwanchalsa (관찰사), i.e. "Provincial governor," named the fish myeongtae after the fisherman Tae and the legion it had been caught.

Since this fish is so popular that the numerous different names given to it and you should not think these names refer to a different species. It is alternatively referred to as myeongtae(명태), saengtae(생태), dongtae(동태), kodari(코다리), bugeo(북어), and hwangtae(황태).  When it’s fresh-caught, wet and alive, it’s called myeongtae (its original name) or saengtae, in which saeng means “alive.”  If it’s frozen, it’s called dongtae, in which dong means “frozen.”  When completely dried, it’s called bugeo (the north fish) – the name has nothing to do with dryness but with its origin –the north sea.  When it was dried in the sea winds on the immaculate snow fields of Daegwallyeong(대관령) of Gangwondo Province all through winter, so it turned fluffy and yellow, it’s called hwangtae, in which hwang means “yellow.”  When just half-dried thus deliciously chewy, it’s called kodari, in which a native Korean word ko means “nose” and dari is from also a native Korean word dallida (달리다, “dangle, hang”).  The word kodari implies the way it was dried – people put a thread through its nose and hung it to dry.  This name was given by the people of Sokcho, a city located in Gangwondo Province.

Its taste, flavor, and nutritional components change according to the way the fish is processed and stored. It is amazing and interesting how resourceful and industrious Koreans are about eating and enjoying a fish in various ways.

Pollock is high in protein and very low in carbohydrates and saturated fat. Protein in Pollock is a complete, high-qualityprotein, full of amino acids essential to human reproduction, growth, and health.  Amino acids are necessary for cell growth and removal of oxidants hence help our body stay healthy and in fluid (including blood) balance.  The fish is also a very good source of retinol (or vitamin A), riboflavin (or vitamin B2), niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium, so helps increase skin elasticity and maintain skin firmness, rehydrate dry skin, repair damaged skin cells, and reduce wrinkles. (Note it also has a downside – it is very high in cholesterol.)

When dried, the fish (hwangtaebugeo, or kodari) is more beneficial – a high-protein, low-fat food with almost no cholesterol thus people with cardiovascular diseases or diabetes can safely eat the fish.  It is good for children's growth and development and for adults’ muscle strength and weight loss.  It is also good for hangovers, detoxifying, cleansing the liver, recovering energy, and controlling blood pressure, and that’s why bugeoguk (dried Pollock soup) or hwangtaeguk (dried yellow Pollock soup) is Korea’s best hangover food.  I’ll introduce hwangtaeguk and hwangtaegui (grilled dried yellow Pollock) sometime later.

INGREDIENTS (5 servings):
● 4 kodaris* (half-dried Pollock)
● 4 cups potato starch*
● sunflower seed oil (or grape seed/canola oil) for frying
● 1 large size green onion, chopped
● 2 green chili peppers, chopped
● 1 TBSP sesame seeds, toasted (or ground almonds/peanuts)

● 1 TBSP anchovy powder**
● 3 TBSP water**
● 3 TBSP ganjang* (Korean soy sauce)
● 1 TBSP gochujang* (Korean hot pepper paste)
● 2 TBSP maesil cheong*** (Korean plum extract)
    →Substitute: 2 TBSP squeezed apple/pear juice
● 4 TBSP jocheong or ssalyeot* (Korean rice syrup)
    →Substitute: 4 TBSP honey or Oligo syrup*
● 1 TBSP ssamjang* (spicy Korean sauce paste)
    →Substitute: 1 TBSP ketchup
● 4 cloves garlic, slivered
● black pepper to taste

*You can find the ingredients in your local Korean markets.  Kodaris are stored in the frozen fish section. 
** If you prefer clean sauce, you’ll need 2 degutted and/or boned dried   anchovies.  Boil them in 1 cup water and remove from the broth after simmering for 10~15 minutes until it makes 3 TBSP of broth. 
***You can find maesil cheong or maesil extract at

● Jocheong or ssalyeot is fermented Korean rice syrup which is made from steamed rice and frequently used in Korean dishes instead of sugar.  (Beware mulyeot is corn syrup.)  As Korean rice syrup does not affect your blood sugar levels, it can be a healthier substitute for sugar or corn syrup.

● Maesil cheong is a Korean plum extract which is combined with brown sugar and aged in a jar.  When used in a dish, it adds a kick to the taste of whatever you got – an MSG-free gamchil mat (감칠 , “a fifth basic taste together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty”).  This extract has antibacterial properties, protects the stomach, and aids digestion.  When you have a stomach upset, heartburn, or acid indigestion, drop a teaspoonful or two of this extract in a cup of warm or cold water and drink it slowly.  It will relieve nausea and other symptoms.

Step 1.  Have all the ingredients ready.

 Thaw frozen kodaris at room temperature; wash thoroughly and drain through a strainer for an hour. Cut off gills with head and remove tail and fins. Bone them thoroughly.  Cut each fish into six to seven, or bite size chunks.

 Chop 1 large size green onion and 2 green chili peppers coarsely and sliver 4 cloves garlic.

Step 2.  Fry Kodaris.

 Coat kodaris thoroughly and thickly in potato starch. 

 Take a deep saucepan and pour enough sunflower seed oil (or grape seed/canola oil) to generously coat the pan.  Heat the oil over medium-low heat, add in kodaris, and cook halfway through with the lid on.  When they are toasty brown, turn and brown the other side.  Cook for the remaining time without the lid on to burn off the extra moisture.

 Drain excess oil from fried kodaris through a strainer.

Step 3.  Prepare Marinade.

 Heat 1 tsp sunflower seed oil in a frying pan over medium heat and stir-fry garlic slivers until light brown.  Add in 3 TBSP water and 1 TBSP anchovy powder (or 3 TBSP anchovy broth), 3 TBSP soy sauce, 1 TBSP gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), 1 TBSP ssamjang (or 1 TBSP ketchup), and black pepper to taste.  (I use sunflower seed oil for a pleasantly nutty flavor but you may substitute grape seed or canola oil.

 When the marinade starts boiling, add in 2 TBSP maesil cheong (Korean plum extract) and 4 TBSP jocheong or ssalyeot (Korean rice syrup).  You may substitute 2 TBSP squeezed apple/pear juice for maesil cheong and 4 TBSP honey or Oligo syrup for jocheong.  Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the marinade thickens, very much like maple syrup.

Step 4.  Coat Kodaris with Marinade.

 Add pan-fried kodaris to marinade sauce in the pan stir until the kodari chunks are well coated with the sauce.  Stir as gently as you can, or the pan-fried chunks will break apart.  Add in coarsely chopped onion and chili peppers and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined, for about a minute.  If you prefer your dish to be mild and less spicy, you may minus the chili peppers.  If you want to try fusion cooking, then substitute ketchup for ssamjang.


Step 5.  Serve.

 Arrange the kodari chunks on a warm platter and garnish with toasted sesame seeds, or ground almonds/peanuts.  Serve with bap (cooked rice), guk (soup), gimchi (kimchi), and a couple side dishes – these dishes will make a perfect Korean dinner table.  Or just serve with cooked rice if you want a simple dinner.

 My sister, RaOn, is a contributing blog writer on this blog.  She currently lives in Seoul, Korea, and writes about what real Korean people eat at home or at Korean-style diners, not at fancy restaurants – it’s just simple yet healthy comfort foods that happen to be very delicious!


  1. love your explanation of the different names of 명태! very interesting, thanks

  2. Thanks a lot for leaving your comments!

  3. This looks great and I was ready to try it, but a recipe I can't copy/paste/print and take to the kitchen is useless to me. Too bad you have this locked so it can't be used.

  4. Great post, interesting writing. Can you explain the calorie chart for this recipe?


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