Dried Anchovy Stir-fry (Myulchi Bokkeum)


The first time my friend Elena and I ever went out to eat was at Food Terminal, one of my favorite local restaurants that serves up eclectic Malaysian dishes. This outing was early on in our friendship and I learned something about my kind friend that day, which was that she wasn't shy about her love for dried anchovies.

As our friendship developed and the more places we dined out together, I've come to know that she was one of the few of my American friends who really appreciated uncompromisingly authentic dishes, not euphemized for the Western palate. 

Nurturing and angelic by nature, Elena has been a friend who has really helped me through some tough times. Having been in a slump lately, I've been touched by her checking in on me every day perhaps to get me out of my odd little head. Yesterday she commented that she wanted to come by to learn how to make some anchovies. Of course, I went to work right away for a recipe.

Thanks Elena.


Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yields: ~3 cups


  • 3 cups medium sized dried anchovies

  • 1 large Korean pepper, sliced into thin 1/2 inch rounds (~ 1/4 cup)

  • 4 cloves of garlic, slivered

  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoons ** oligo syrup

  • toasted sesame seeds for garnishing (optional)

For the Seasoning Sauce

  • 1/8 cup medium bodied soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sub with white cooking wine or sake)

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon ** oligo syrup

** sub with brown rice syrup, honey or corn syrup

1. Prepare your seasoning sauce by mixing all ingredients well in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Place a wok or wide frying pan over medium heat. Once heated, toss in anchovies and begin toasting them until they begin to yield a nutty aroma, are crispy but not burnt and they have become slightly golden. Toasting should take about 3 minutes or less. Once toasting is completed, transfer the anchovies into a separate heat proof bowl and set aside.


3. Wipe off wok of any debris with an oiled paper towel. Place your wok back over medium heat and add in vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, toss in garlic slivers and let them fry for just a few seconds or until they begin yielding a garlicky aroma and right before they turn golden. Be careful not burn the garlic, they cook fast!


4. Immediately toss in your tasted anchovies and stir well to coat them well with your garlic oil. Stir in peppers.

5. Pour in your seasoning sauce and the mixture should begin bubbling a bit and evaporating quickly. This means your glaze is developing, and this is a good thing.


6. Stir frequently until the sauce has reduced down enough to coat the anchovies completely. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oligo syrup to create a sweet and glossy finish. Garnish with sesame seeds.


Best served as a banchan (side) and eaten with hot rice. Great as salty and sweet snack with a cold beer!