I don’t know about you.. but I have a small fear of things with heads.
Food items that is.
And fish with heads are definitely ones that fit into that category.
In Korea, it is totally the norm for fish to be all over the place- and seriously, all over the place- like on your corner sidewalk being sold out of an ice bucket by an old adjoshi with a stump leg to the 7-11s- in live, dried, raw, fresh, frozen forms- but generally very recognizable as fish. Where I’m from in Canada, when we see fish it is almost always in the form of a filet. No heads, no bones, no eyes…
So you can imagine I approach this area with a bit of fear and trepidation..
And generally fish isn’t my favourite food, so I usually just forgo it in terms of something safer and more familiar. However, fish is an incredibly healthy food. I religiously take my liquid fish oil supplement and am constantly being reminded of the health benefits of fish. Jonathan Bailer, author of the Smarter Science of Slim, said that seafood should actually be in its own category and at the very top of food based on its nutrition. And of course he isn’t the only one, and my mom has definitely drilled into me the health benefits of eating salmon straight from the can- bones and all, but still, I tend to bypass this all the same.
Anyways, after living here in Korea for a year and 4 months (wow how time flies!), it’s time for me to embrace the availability of this food area and try my hand at some fishy cooking! Although their are many kinds of fish available- I’ve been eyeing these guys up for ages, but out of fear, and not knowing how to prepare them, I’ve bypassed them.
But not today! After doing a little bit of internet research, I felt confidant I could prepare them. The Korean name I think is jogi but in English they can be called yellow croaker or yellow corvina. They are semi-dried and frozen.
I found there was a huge selection at E-mart- different sizes were different prices, with smaller ones being cheaper. The ones with heads were slightly more expensive. I decided to buy 1kg of ones with heads and 1kg of ones without heads. It cost about 20,000 won, so just less than $20. That doesn’t seem like a bad deal to me!
The Emart lady was very excited I was buying her fish, and showed me with gestures how I must scrape the scales off and then fry the fish. Ok- easy enough I thought!
And really, it was quite easy and turned out absolutely delicious! Which kind of surprised me. I just don’t think fish is that great in general- but mmm I loved this! I’m definitely making it again- and plan to incorporate more fish as a regular staple in my diet.
Gluten-free Coconut Flour Faux-Fried Fish (with heads!)
10-15 whole fish fillets, with or without heads, about 6 inches long
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1 T stevia granular, or desired sweetener, optional
1/2 c egg whites
3 T coconut flour
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1. Scale your fish by scraping the scales off against the grain with a knife. Rinse.
2. Combine ACV and stevia (if using) and allow fish to marinate for about 20 minutes. (I did 2 batches of fish- with and without heads. So I scraped the first batch, then allowed them to soak while I scraped the second batch. Then I transferred the second batch into the same marinade while performing the next step).
3. Have 2 separate dishes- one for your egg whites and the second for your coconut flour mixture. Mix coconut flour and spices together.
4. Bread your fish by dipping first in the coconut flour mix, shaking off the excess, then dipping in the egg whites. Shake off excess and place in pan heated on low heat. I greased my pans by rubbing a very small amount of coconut oil onto them.
Alternatively, you could spray them, or if you aren’t watching your fat, be more generous with your coating. Also, you can bake them in the oven- I did this as well, on parchment lined pans at 250, for 15-20 mins flipping once halfway.
5. Fry your fish until they flake easily, flipping once or twice. Mine took about 10-15 minutes.
Plate and enjoy!
The bones are actually quite soft, and I ended up actually eating most of the bones. Excellent source of calcium!!
Yes they are kinda still a bit scary to me- the heads. (And no I did not eat the heads- wayyy too creepy!!!) But the ones without the heads are no problem! And for some reason the fins don’t bother me at all- crispy, crunchy and yummy! And this breading recipe was great- I loved the chilli powder and also the ACV marinade added a great sweet and sour flavour. Yum!
Are you scared of fish heads?