Gulbi – also known as Dried Yellow Corvina – is one of Korea’s favorite fishes.
Gulbi is found in temperate waters just off the coast of Yeonggwang - in the Yellow Sea. In the old days, almost 100% of all the Gulbi was fished from Yeonggwang.
(Nowadays, Korea imports lot of Gulbi from China and other areas to keep up with the domestic demand)
So how is Gulbi prepared?
The yellow corvina are fished, then immediately packed in ice. After being brought ashore, they’re covered (whole) in mounds of sea salt.
This salting process removes excess moisture from the fish, seasons the flesh and firms-up the texture.
The salted fish are then carefully tied up (so they’re not touching either) and left out to dry in the ocean winds.
(The fish are not completely dried out like jerky - just enough so that the flesh firms up.)
Afterwards, the gulbi are inspected, frozen and packaged for sale at Korean markets.
Why go through so much effort?
The taste of course!
Gulbi has the right amount of seasoning (no need to add any salt) and the fresh breaks apart into larger clumps when being handled with chopsticks. This is why its sold at a premium.
If you’re at the Korean market, you may also see Fresh Yellow Corvina. This has a different name - it's called Jogi (조기) in Korean.
Gulbi and Jogi refer to the same fish. Just different preparations.
One is salted and slightly-dried. While the other has no prep done to it.
In modern times, gulbi is typically eaten for breakfast. It's pan-fried or grilled and served alongside a bowl of doenjang jjigae and a few banchans.
Sounds good no - makes for a balanced breakfast meal.
Today, I’ll show you how to prep and cook fish indoors – without any of the smell!
All you need is parchment paper. If you cook fish inside of it, all of the smell gets trapped inside - until you open it, of course.
So you're wary of cooking fish because of the smell, try this pro-tip! You'll thank us later 🙂
Shopping & Cooking Notes:
If you're at the Korean mart, ask if they have Gulbi from Yeonggwang (영광굴비). This tastes the best.
Gulbi caught in Yeonggwang has a diamond shape on its forehead.
Also watch out for the bones as you eat! In Korean cuisine, we don’t debone fish before cooking – rather we pick-out the small bones with our chopsticks as we eat (refer to the video)
This fish has a tendency to break apart easily. So be gentle as you flip!
If you decided to buy Jogi (as opposed to Gulbi), I recommend taking the innards out of the fish before storing or cooking. Or else it may spoil the fish.
For Gulbi, you don't have to take-out the innards as the fish has already been slightly dried and frozen with the innards - meaning the innards won't spoil the fish.
If you try this fish out, let us know what you think! Tag us on IG - we love to see your photos!
-Daniel out 🕺
- 1-3 Whole Gulbi
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Vinegar
- 1 sheet of Parchment Paper
- The gulbi will be frozen. So let it thaw out at room temperature. (To speed up the thawing process, you can also soak the gulbi in a bowl with cold water). It should take 15-20 minutes.
- Once the gulbi has thawed, use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim-off the fins and tails off the fish (reference video). Then use a knife to carefully de-scale the fish. Remember to get both sides, underside and top-side.
- Now thoroughly rinse the fish off under running water.
- Afterwards, pat the fish down dry with a few paper towels - remove as much moisture as you can.
- Then take out a small bowl and mix vegetable oil with vinegar. Set aside for next steps.
Wrap in Parchment paper
- Place the prepped fish on a sheet of parchment paper (or Paper Foil).
- Use a small brush to lather the oil and vinegar mixture onto the fish. Make sure to cover both sides of the fish.
- Then fold the sides of the parchement paper to form a small packet (reference video).
- Place non-stick frying pan on medium heat. (No need to add any oil in!) Once the pan gets hot, reduce the heat slightly to a medium-low heat. Then add the packet in - folded side, facing down so it doesn't unravel.
- Let it cook for 5-7 minutes on both sides - or until the fish is cooked through.
- Carefully open the packet and serve with rice!