Korean Style Lake Smelt

korean style lake smelt

This Korean style lake smelt is made in the fashion of myeolchi bokkeum, the delicious Korean ban chan dish of dried anchovies in a spicy sauce. It is quite a pungent and powerful dish, so you only need a little bit, and it’s best served as a snack, a side, in a banchan (Korean side dish) spread, or with lots of white rice. 

  • Prep Time10 min
  • Cook Time5 min
  • Total Time15 min
  • Yield4 servings as part of a ban chan spread or appetizer


  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 lb (225g) lake smelt, gutted, heads on or off
  • 1 tablespoon (8g) gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon (8ml) gochujang (Korean fermented pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) white sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed into a paste
  • 1/2 cup (70g) white flour
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (8g) sesame seeds
  • Cilantro to garnish



Add at least 1 inch (2cm) of oil to a skillet or wok.

Slowly heat it up to 350°F (175°C).


Rinse off lake smelt.


Prepare sauce by adding the gochugaru, water, soy, fish sauce, gochujang, sugar, and garlic into a bowl and mixing well. 


Pour the flour onto a plate or into a plastic bag and add the salt and pepper to season it. 

Toss the smelt in the flour, so that every one is coated in it. 


Working in 2 batches, fry the smelt in the hot oil for 3 minutes or until golden and crispy. 

Remove from the oil and let drain on a paper towel. 


Add the fried smelt to a wok or frying pan over medium high heat. 

Add the sauce and toss the smelt in it so everything is coated. Cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and sticky. 

Add in the sesame seeds, then transfer to a plate or bowl. 


Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Enjoy!

korean style lake smelt

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