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Jeonju Omogaritang (spicy fish stew)

 

Have you heard of Omogaritang?

‘Omogari’ is the local dialect for ‘ttukbaegi’ (coated earthenware vessel for both cooking and serving various boiled or rice dishes in Korean cuisine). Omogaritang is a spicy freshwater fish stew dish, popular among locals for boosting stamina.

There are three historic omogaritang restaurants next to each other on the riverside street that links Jeonju Hanok Village and Hanbyukru Pavilion. The three restaurants are ‘Hanbyukjip’, ‘Hwasoonjip’, and ‘Namyangjip’. On this street, you can dine at the seat overlooking Jeonjuchun River.

I sat on the wide flat bench next to the river and ordered omogaritang. The flat bench seat is very popular, so I recommend visiting early if you want to dine outside.

The side dishes and omogaritang are served. The side dishes, such as seasoned bean sprouts, roasted laver, and seasoned lettuce are common but require efforts. They all went well with the spicy fish stew.

Dried leaves of radish or Chinese cabbage (‘siraegi’ in Korean) make omogaritang flavorsome. Hwasoonjip uses radish leaves while the other two restaurants use Chinese cabbage leaves for the stew. Also, you can choose the freshwater fish to boil for your omogaritang. There are four choices: catfish, Korean bullhead, golden mandarin fish, and common minnow. Catfish and Korean bullhead are popular.

The rice was also savory, cooked in a large iron pot with plenty of black beans. Scorched rice tea and overcooked rice crust were served after the meal. The three omogaritang restaurants located at Hanok Village Chundongro Street are the original and most famous ones in the town. I recommend trying this spicy and hearty local stew dish for the cold and snowy winter.

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