In Korea, these stir-fried anchovies (myulchi bokkeum or myeolchi bokkeum) are a common side dish (banchan). Sweet, savory, sticky, and crispy anchovies that are stir-fried to perfection! This simple recipe has a few healthier ingredient swaps compared to traditional recipes, however, it is still just as tasty! This is a soy-free, gluten-free, and Paleo-compliant recipe.
Our easy stir-fried anchovies recipe
This style of side dish is called mitbanchan in Korea, and it’s one of the most frequently made basic side dishes. Basic side dishes (mitbanchan) are intended to last the household a while and be eaten with every meal, even packed school lunches. Sweet, flavorful, sticky, and crispy Korean stir-fried anchovies!
Ingredients needed for Korean stir-fried anchovies
- Anchovies – Korean broth (Gukmul yong 국물용) is typically made with mostly medium to large-sized anchovies. Smaller-sized anchovies, known as bokkeum yong (볶음용), are used for a variety of stir-fried or braised side dishes. Jiri myulchi (지리멸치) is the tiniest anchovies. For this dish, any small-sized or tiny-sized dried anchovies will suffice. We recommend picking the smallest-sized anchovies you can find at your store or online.
- Mild green chili peppers – These chili peppers are very common in Korean cuisine and are typically enjoyed raw or cooked. You can find them at most Asian or Korean markets near you. If you can’t find these green chili peppers or don’t have an Asian market near you, then feel free to substitute them with jalapeno peppers, serranos, or even green bell peppers. My mom grows these peppers in her garden, so we had some red ones available and added them to our recipe. These peppers can turn red when they’re left to mature. So feel free to add in some red peppers if you have them!
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- Coconut aminos – We are using coconut aminos in this recipe instead of soy sauce. This is a great soy-free alternative for those who cannot tolerate soy in their diet. It also has a bit of natural sweetness to it which makes it a great option for this recipe!
- Date syrup/honey – We opted to use this instead of regular white sugar. This will give this dish the sweetness it needs while opting for a slightly better option than refined sugar. If you prefer to use regular sugar, then feel free to make that swap.
- Fish sauce – This gives it a good depth of umami flavors and what helps to give it that savory profile. It’s also very salty so this is the salt that will help to balance the sweetness from the date syrup/honey and coconut aminos.
- Mushroom umami powder (or Dasida beef soup stock powder) – You can use either in this recipe. This will give it extra oomph of flavor due to the umami flavor profiles these ingredients will add to the dish. If you’re Paleo, gluten-free, or staying soy-free, then we’d suggest using the mushroom umami powder.
- Ground black pepper
- Roasted sesame seeds
- Avocado oil
Anchovies are good for you and high in omega-3 fatty acids
Anchovies include a variety of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to one’s health. They’re well recognized for being high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your brain and heart. Anchovies also contain selenium, which may lower the risk of some cancers if consumed frequently.
- Heart health
- Thyroid protection
- Eye health
- Alzheimer’s prevention
A great Paleo, soy-free, and gluten-free side dish recipe
This is a delicious side dish recipe and maybe a new and different way to get some healthy omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. I remember loving to eat this growing up because the savory and sweet combination was just addicting! This wouldn’t last very long in our household.
How to serve our stir-fried anchovies
Serve this dish at room temperature, or even straight out of the fridge. This light and delicious side dish goes well with Korean BBQ, a bossam spread, in or alongside a bibimbap bowl, or any simple weekday supper. It’s also a fantastic snack at any time of the day. We served it with a simple steamed brown rice, but if you’re staying low carb or Paleo, then omit the rice and serve it alongside a protein-based main dish and vegetables.
If you can eat rice, then try our Brown Rice Balls with Anchovies & Seaweed recipe. We use these stir-fried anchovies in our rice balls. So delicious!
Here are some recipes you may want to serve alongside stir-fried anchovies:
- Easy Chicken Bulgogi
- Gochujang Stir-fried Chicken
- Best and Easiest Beef Bulgogi
- Best Korean BBQ Short Ribs (LA Galbi Gui)
- Whole30 Straw Mushrooms and Beef Stir-fry
How to store leftovers
Any leftovers can be kept for a few days in an airtight container. Keep it refrigerated.
More basic side dish recipes
- Korean Stir-Fried Fernbrake Side Dish (Gosari Namul 고사리나물)
- Korean Seasoned Spinach Side Dish (Sigeumchi-namul)
- Korean Stir-fried Spicy Fish Cakes
- Whole30 Asian-style Stir-fried Eggplant
- 2 cups small-sized dried anchovies
- 5 mild green chili peppers, remove seeds/stem, diagonally sliced
- 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos
- 2 Tablespoons Date syrup (or honey)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon mushroom umami powder* (see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- In a frying pan on medium-low heat, add in the avocado oil. Once the pan gets hot add the anchovies and stir-fry for about 10 minutes.
- Next, add in the green peppers and continue to stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the remaining ingredients. Turn the heat down to low heat and continue to stir-fry for another 5 minutes.
- Allow to cool until it’s about room temperature. Sprinkle the top with toasted sesame seeds before serving. Serve and enjoy!
*If not on strict dietary guidelines, you can substitute for Dasida beef soup stock powder.
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