Recipe: Grandma Lee’s Sweet and Spicy Anchovy and Walnut Panchan (Side Dish)

I always find it amusing when people claim they can’t stand anchovies, and yet they order Caesar salad or use Worcestershire sauce (which has anchovies as one of the ingredients). Or when so-called foodies harp about freshness and eating food close to their source, and yet they freak out when fish is served head and all. (Come on, folks! The meat at the head of the fish is among the tastiest. Really.)

Confession time—I, too, am generally not fond of anchovies. I pick them out if I see them floating in my mom’s homemade soups. But if they are, let’s say, coated in a sweet and spicy sauce, tossed with roasted walnuts and served as panchan, I can eat them—heads and all.

This panchan makes the most of the calcium-rich anchovies and the heart-healthy walnuts. The only caveat is that the dried anchovies tend to be naturally higher in sodium, so this dish is NOT for you if you’re supposed to be watching your sodium intake. And yet, there’s something about the sweet, salty, and spicy combination that makes the mouth and tummy hum, and maybe make one want to throw caution to the winds. 😀

Recipe: Grandma Lee’s Spicy Anchovy and Walnut Panchan
Dried anchovies (myulchi)
Oil (sesame, extra virgin olive, canola—sometimes I like to mix)
Korean ground red pepper flakes (gochu garoo)
Brown sugar or Korean corn syrup (maht yut)
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1) Coat nonstick frying pan with oil and saute dried anchovies and walnuts for about 3 to 5 minutes. Make sure to use enough oil as it will act as binder to the spicy and sweet ingredients and keep everything from sticking and burning on the pan.

2) Add Korean red pepper flakes, brown sugar, and/or a dash of Korean corn syrup to the  walnut and anchovy mixture. Stir well in order to keep ingredients from sticking to bottom of pan.

3) When ingredients are well incorporated (about 2 to 3 minutes), remove from heat and pan and put into storage container and/or serving dish. Note: final product should be rather sticky, not dry.

4) Garnish with toasted sesame seeds if you like before serving. Enjoy!

[Picture coming soon]


1) Another way to prepare this is on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 325 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl before putting in preheated oven. Make sure to watch over closely and stir frequently. You don’t want to end up with burnt anchovy brittle. Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes, depending on oven.

2) You might want to try roasting the walnuts without the anchovies if you just want a fish-free sweet and spicy treat. Depending on whether or not salt has already been added to the walnuts, you may or may not need to add more salt.

(Updated 9/27/12)


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