Good things may come in small packages. But in Korean food, great things come in small, smelly packages.
The pungent culprit: dried anchovies, a staple of Korean cuisine and an instant flavor bomb.
We were eager to employ these tiny fish in our kitchen, but quickly realized that not all anchovies are alike. So we turned to Corey Lee, the Korean-American chef that heads up San Francisco’s Benu, for some schooling.
Size Matters: “Dried anchovies typically come in two sizes,” says Lee. “Add the larger ones to stocks and broths, along with ginger and green onion, for extra umami. The tiny anchovies are great for eating: I sauté them with chile, garlic and sesame oil and eat them as a snack.”
Brand Power: Lee prefers Sempio anchovies, which have a cleaner taste. He suggests storing the large, fully dried anchovies in the pantry, but keep the smaller, semidried ones in the refrigerator.
How to Use: When making anchovy stock for the first time, blanch them first to lessen their intensity. Lee loves using the small anchovies as a topping, almost like a condiment. At Benu, he caramelizes the tiny fish and adds them to a sous-vide potato salad served on the restaurant’s tasting menu (see the recipe).