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korean food / seoul / Mentaiko Gourmet Party Part 1! Busan, the city of mentaiko – 2145

* This magazine is in collaboration with Busan City and Busan Tourism Organization.

That mentaiko is that mentaiko.

Please think of a song that comes to mind after the lyrics below.

“~~~” from head to toe

1) Lovely~

2) Hot! this! Shu!

3) Mr. Oronamin!

Thirties > 20s > teens in order of correct answers

What answers did you choose?

Just like looking at the same lyrics and choosing different answers, there are two images of Janus grade in the food industry these days. Today's theme is “Mentaiko.”

What kind of food do you think of when you think of mentaiko?

A mentaiko side dish where you slice a red and salty mentaiko, add sesame oil, sesame seeds, and chives, mix with the seasoning, and take a bite of white rice and seaweed? Or mentaiko bibimbap eaten by putting soft avocado, seaweed, and a beautifully cooked fried egg without bursting the yolk on hot rice, and apricot-colored mentaiko?

If the former mentaiko is a so-called “side dish”, the latter is an “side dish for the current generation” with an Instagram sensibility.

In fact, it's no exaggeration to say that mentaiko is in its second heyday as dishes using mentaiko, such as mentaiko, avocado bibimbap, mentaiko pasta, and mentaiko baguette, became popular.

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Image Source: Mentaiko Goni Spaghetti by Lisandok Osteria

A salty flavor with a popping texture and the flavor of the sea!

Let's take a closer look at mentaiko, which makes your mouth water cringe just thinking about it.

Pollock served generously

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Pollock is also the fish with the most names. Names such as ecology when alive, persimmon when frozen, well-dried drumfish, hwangtae, which repeatedly freezes and melts in the wind of Gangwon Province in winter, kodari, which is half-dried without entrails and gills, and nogari, which means young cub, are familiar.

Recently, black-dried shark and broad-dried mackerel are also often seen as a companion to a glass of beer. There are also unfamiliar names, such as Chuntae, Chutae, Shitae, Mimultae, and Mangtae, depending on when and how they are caught.

There is also nothing to throw away from pollack of entrails, but there are many uses, including “mentaiko,” which is the egg of pollack, which is the main character of the day, “Changran,” which is mainly eaten with salted fish, the gill “seogai,” and “here,” which is soft and tangy and has an excellent flavor eaten in a spicy soup.

As different as the names are, they all have different flavors, so the pollock that is transformed and dedicated in various ways is an ingredient that Koreans are very grateful for. However, due to the influence of warming, habitats gradually changed northward, and it is a pity that most pollack currently handled mainly in Korea is pelagic.

No matter what happened, I am once again grateful to Mun Ming-tae, who keeps her eyes open on the threshold and protects the house day and night.

Let's get back to business and take a look at today's protagonist, Mentaiko.

Mentaiko is salted and eaten soaked in salted fish. Split the belly of the fresh pollock, gently remove the shell of the pollock so that it doesn't burst, wash it in salt water, then salt it. It is usually salted to 15% salt, seasoned with red pepper powder, garlic, etc., and eaten. Since refrigeration facilities have improved like these days, low-salt mentaiko with a salinity reduced to 4% is also popular.

Mentaiko is a unique ingredient with its unique crunchy texture and salty yet bitter flavor unique to internal organs. This flavor plays a leading role in most foods such as rice, noodles, and bread. It's also great if you put it in the soup without removing the coating to fully feel the popping texture, or you can peel off the coating and scrape it off with a cutlery and grate it on the rice. The round, long, and plump shape of the mentaiko itself is mouth-watering.

If it's mentaiko, is it Japan? NO! Busan, the home of mentaiko!

There was someone who introduced the taste of this mentaiko to Japan early on. This is “Toshio Kawahara,” who was born in Busan during the Japanese era. Kawahara returned to Japan after World War II and remembered the mentaiko she ate when she lived in Busan, and founded “Fukuya” in Nakasu, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka in 1949, and introduced mentaiko under the name “mentaiko.”

At first, it was seasoned with red pepper powder and sake, but it gradually captivated Japanese tastes by seasoning with kelp and bonito flakes to suit Japanese tastes. This mentaiko became the number one source of public trust for fukuya to grow into a longevity company in Japan for over 70 years. A drama called “Spicy Mentaiko” was broadcast on Japanese TV, and a movie of the same name was released last year.

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Image source: Manga Hakata Mentaiko Monogatari (https://www.fukuya.com)

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Image source: Manga Hakata Mentaiko Monogatari (https://www.fukuya.com)

Mentaiko spread all over Japan, mainly in Fukuoka, and became a “national side dish.” Mentaiko products made in collaboration with various foods such as mentaiko for hot pot, condiments, snacks, various sweets, and tea are pouring in, turning the mentaiko processing factory into a tourist attraction, showing the majesty of a mentaiko heaven.

Therefore, there is a generation that knows mentaiko as a Japanese specialty in Korea these days. However, the point is that mentaiko is a Korean side dish that is even more popular in Japan!

Recently, efforts have begun to promote the “original taste” in Busan, the hometown of Japanese mentaiko. The story of a Busan mentaiko artisan who preserves history and tradition. Please look forward to the second part of the Mentaiko Gourmet Party with Busan Tourism Organization, “The People Who Make Mentaiko!”



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