Agujjim (Spicy Braised Monkfish with Soybean Sprouts)

Agujjim (아구찜), also called agwijjim (아귀찜), is a spicy fish dish made with agu (monkfish) and kongnamul (soybean sprouts).  Jjim (찜) is the noun form of the word jjida (찌다) which means “to steam”. Over time, jjim dishes have evolved into dishes that encompass various different cooking techniques, including long braising used for dishes like galbijjim (braised short ribs) and short braising used to cook vegetables and seafood. Agujjim is made by short braising in a small amount of liquid (water or anchovy/dashima broth) and a spicy sauce.

Agujjim originated from the southern coastal city of Masan. In the past, this not so good-looking fish wasn’t consumed as a food item in Korea due to its appearance. The story behind the birth of this dish is that some fishermen didn’t want to waste their catches, so they brought them to an eatery and ask the cook to make a tasty dish. That was in the 1960’s. The dish is now enormously popular all over the country in Korea. At restaurants, agujjim is usually sold as a large dish that’s meant to be shared. It’s also pretty pricey. I remember my first time ordering this dish, at a restaurant around here, many years ago. The expensive, large dish we ordered to share was just full of soybean sprouts and not enough fish to go around. My family was disappointed, and I started to make the dish at home.

Monkfish is a firm, white fish with a texture similar to lobster meat. Here in America, it’s known as “poor man’s lobster”. Korean markets around here sell trimmed monkfish so I don’t have to deal with the huge, ugly head. The fishmonger will cut it into small pieces for you if you ask. They are usually bone-in and skin-on, which is fine for us Koreans because we usually cook fish with bones and skins intact. But, you can also use fillets for this dish. Agujjim usually includes minari (Korean watercress) and mideodeok (sea squirts) as well. Sea squirts are hard to find and expensive, so I usually substitute it with shrimp or clams. The soybean sprouts play an important supporting role in this dish. Be sure to cook the sprouts briefly, and plunge them into an ice bath immediately after. The crunchy bean sprouts nicely complement the tender, moist fish with a burst of spicy flavor!

2 to 3 servings
1.5 pounds monkfish (agu)
2 tablespoons rice wine (or use dry white wine)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (less if using fine table salt)
6 large shrimp, unpeeled (or a few little neck clams) – optional

1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
3 tablespoons Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons water

8 ounces soybean sprouts
2 ounces minari or watercress, cut into about 3 to 4 inch lengths
2 scallions, cut into about 2 inch lengths

starch slurry (1 tablespoon corn or potato starch in 2 tablespoons of water)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Clean and cut the fish into about 2 inch-thick pieces. Drain, and pat dry with a paper towel. Mix well with a teaspoon of salt and the wine. Let it stand while preparing the other ingredients.

Combine all seasoning ingredients.

Prepare a bowl with ice water. In a medium size pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the soybean sprouts, and cook, covered, for 2 minutes over high heat. Drain, and immediately shock in the ice water. Drain.

Heat a heavy, deep skillet. Add 1/2 cup of water and the fish, and cook, covered, over medium heat, for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the fish over half way through the process.

Stir in the seasoning mix and the optional shrimp (or clams). Continue to cook, covered, for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the fish is tender and the shrimp is cooked through (or the clams open).

Add the vegetables. Gently toss to evenly coat the vegetables with the sauce.

Pour in the starch slurry, and stir well until the sauce thickens. Stir in the sesame oil and sesame seeds at the end. Serve with a bowl of rice.

Leave a Comment



  1. You are truly telepathic with your readers! I was craving this for the past 2 weeks. Now I’m going to have it FINALLY!

  2. kumars kitchen says

    delicious,spicy and a colorful flavor rich dish 🙂

  3. I bought a bag of frozen agujjim kit frm the Korean suppermarket. I was given a sample and liked it. So I bought a bag of soybean sprouts and made it at home. It was pretty goid except for whatever it was that looked like clams or shucked baby oysters. Only that’s not what it was. I am guessing it was small sea squirts. It was pretty wierd. The skin was tough and it was full of liquid and guts inside. I ended up fishing those things out and throwing it away.

  4. Kyong Anderson says

    Thank you for taking your time to share your recipes. My mom unfortunately passed away and didn’t get to pass down her recipes to me. Your recipes offer me a missing link when I am making Korean food for myself and my family.

    • Hi Kyong! So sorry to hear about your mom. I’m glad my recipes are helpful to you. Thank you so much for coming by to share your story! Happy Korean cooking!