Anchovy Broth for Korean Cooking

Anchovy broth is essential in Korean cooking. Learn the basics of making anchovy broth to enhance flavors of your stews, soups, and other dishes.
Korean anchovy broth in a measuring cup
 

What is Korean anchovy broth

Anchovy broth  (myeolchi yuksu, 멸치육수) is essential in Korean cooking. It’s a traditional base for many soups, stews and other dishes. If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know anchovy broth is used in many of my recipes. For a vegan version, see my Vegetable Broth for Korean Cooking.
 
The resulting broth is light in body, full of savory flavor, and not all that fishy. This is why it’s so versatile!

You can simply use dried anchovies (myeolchi, 멸치) for a quick and simple broth. Dried kelp (dashima, 다시마), aka kombu, is the most popular addition. While these two ingredients together make deliciously savory broth for any dishes that require a broth, it’s very common to add various other ingredients for more complex broth. Here are some of the most common ingredients:

  • Dried anchovies (myeolchi, 멸치)
  • Dried kelp (dashima, 다시마)
  • Korean radish (mu, 무)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms (pyogo beoseot, 표고버섯)
  • Dried shrimp (mareun saewu, 마른새우)

To help you master the techniques on this fundamental Korean soup base, here’s everything you need to know about how to make anchovy broth! Unlike meat-based stocks or broth, making anchovy broth takes very little work and time.

Buying dried anchovies 

Dried anchovies (myeolchi, 멸치) come in a wide range of qualities and sizes. The selection, however, is somewhat limited outside Korea. For best results, buy the good quality anchovies. Look for the ones that have clean silvery skins with a bluish tone. Typically, medium to large (about 2 -3 inches long) anchovies are used for stock as they impart more flavor. Dried anchovies keep well in the freezer for months. These anchovies are a staple in my freezer.

Dried anchovies in a bag

Preparing anchovies

Remove the guts by opening the belly and scraping them out, but leave the heads on. The stock tends to get a little bitter with the guts, especially with large size anchovies. You don’t need to remove the guts from small to medium anchovies.

If you are sensitive to a fishy taste, you can precook the anchovies for a few minutes in a heated dry pan before using in stock. This process will get rid of some of the fishy taste.

cleaning dry anchovies

Buying and preparing dashima (kombu)

Dashima (다시마) is edible kelp – large seaweed, which is widely used in a soup base in Korean and other Asian cooking. This is NOT the same seaweed that Koreans use for miyeok guk. Dried dashima comes in slightly thick flat sheets with white powder on the surface.
 
Do not wash this white powder off, or you will lose some of the natural flavor enhancers dashima is known for. Gently wipe dashima with a lightly dampened cloth only to remove any sand or grit. Stored in a cool dry place, it will last for months.

Quick Option – Packets

For your convenience, there are anchovy packets you can buy from a Korean market. Keep the bag in the freezer, and simply drop a packet into a pot of water. These packets usually have some dried anchovies along with a small piece of dried kelp. 

Packets of dried anchovies and dried kelp for a soup base

How to make anchovy broth 

Once you have all the ingredients ready, making the broth is pretty simple. Add water, boil and strain the solids! Here are some helpful tips for making any variation of anchovy broth:

1. Soak dried anchovies and dashima in water for at least 20 minutes if you have time. 

2. Boil, uncovered, so any fishy aroma that develops can escape.

3. Do not boil anchovies and dashima too long. If boiled too long, the stock will lose the delicacy of the flavors or even develop an unpleasant taste. Also, dashima will develop a slimy substance when over boiled, making the stock cloudy.

To illustrate the basic techniques and tips, I have chosen three classic variations here. 

Anchovy Broth I – Very basic

It is very common for Korean home cooks to simply throw a few anchovies in the water to make this simplest form of anchovy stock. It’s a convenient way to add another layer of flavor to a dish. You can use this broth in any recipe that calls for anchovy broth. Try it for:

kongnamul guk
baechu doenjang guk
mu guk
doenjang jjigae
kimchi jjigae

Anchovy Stock II – Enhanced

I probably make this one the most. It’s as easy as the first one, but dashima, a natural flavor enhancer, elevates the anchovy stock to the next level. This will add great flavors to any dish you use it for.  In addition to the list above:

Tteokbokki
jjambbong
gyeranjjim

Anchovy Stock III – Fully flavored

In this version, aromatic vegetables add more depth and complexity to the flavor of the stock. You can of course use this fully flavored in any dishes that require a broth, including all of the ones list above.  I also love this stock for any noodle soup such as janchi guksu. It’s also wonderful for manduguk and tteokguk.

Often I add dried shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp to this third version. They add strong flavors, and the resulting stock is fairly complex. These optional ingredients can be boiled with the vegetables.

Any leftover anchovy stock can be refrigerated for 3 – 4 days or frozen for later use.

If you tried this recipe, please rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out for you in the comment section below.  Stay in touch by following me on YouTubePinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Korean anchovy broth in a measuring cup
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Anchovy Broth for Korean Cooking

Anchovy broth is essential in Korean cooking. Learn the basics of making anchovy broth to enhance flavors of your stews and soups.
Author: Hyosun

Ingredients

Anchovy Broth I - Very basic:

  • 10 - 12 medium to large dried anchovies

Anchovy Broth II - Enhanced:

  • 10 - 12 medium to large dried anchovies
  • 2 pieces of dried dashima about 3-inch squares

Anchovy Broth III - Fully flavored:

  • 10 - 12 medium to large dried anchovies
  • 2 pieces of dried dashima about 3-inch squares
  • 4 ounces Korean radish cut into big chunks
  • 1/2 small onion whole
  • 2 - 3 garlic cloves
  • white parts of 2 scallions

Optional ingredients:

  • Dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Dried shrimp

Instructions

Anchovy Broth I - Very basic:

  • Prepare the dried anchovies, and soak in 6 - 8 cups of water for at least 20 minutes, if you have time. Then, bring it to a moderate boil, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium high and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the liquid to remove the anchovies.
    Making anchovy broth in a pot

Anchovy Broth II - Enhanced:

  • Prepare the dried anchovies and dashima (about 3-inch squares). Soak them in 6 - 8 cups of water in a medium size pot (3 Qt) for at least 20 minutes, if you have time. Then, bring it to a gentle boil, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium high, and boil for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid to remove anchovies and dashima from the stock.
    Anchovies and dried kelp in a pot of water

Anchovy Broth III - Fully flavored:

  • Prepare the dried anchovies and dashima. Also prepare the aromatic vegetables
    Anchovy 2BBroth 2B6 - Anchovy Broth for Korean Cooking
  • Meanwhile, in a pot large enough to hold 12 - 14 cups of water (5 Qt pot), place the anchovies and vegetables with 8 cups of water. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium high and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the dashima, and continue boil for another 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the broth, and discard the solids.
    Anchovies with aromatic vegetables in a pot of water
  • If using the optional ingredients, simply add the optional ingredients with the anchovies and vegetables in the beginning and follow the instructions for Anchovy Broth III.
    Anchovy stock

Notes

Any leftover anchovy stock can be refrigerated for 3 - 4 days or frozen for later use.
Tried this recipe?Mention @koreanbapsang or tag #koreanbapsang!

This anchovy broth recipe was originally posted in June 2011. I’ve updated it here with new photos, more information, and minor changes to the recipe.  

shares