Despite my rather long ‘history’ of visiting Korea and all, I didn’t have my first taste of this Korean specialty, Ganjang Gejang (raw crabs marinated in soy sauce) until last year.
You might have read HERE how it was an unimaginably amazing meeting for me and crab that summer evening in Seoul.
Truth be told, I’d never thought that love at first sight could be this heart-stoppingly dramatic. So dramatic that I literally swore at first bite.
These four words escaped my lips at my first taste of ganjang gejang.
OH MY EFFING GOD.
And mind you, I ain’t one to swear normally. It had tasted that goooooood to me. Nothing prepared me for how richly flavourful the dish was!
Anyway, I had first heard about this from one of Shinhwa Broadcast episodes, and I knew that I had to try it. Then later, I also saw the dish popping up again and again as a popular banchan in another Korean variety show, Barefoot Friends.
WHAT IS GANJANG GEJANG (간장게장)?
Ganjang refers to soy sauce, Ge is crab and Jang is, well, sauce. Yup, it is just that, a dish made by marinating raw crabs in soy sauce.
It is a traditional Korean dish that is very popular and much loved. Apparently really very local and its taste so rich and some even say too rich (pungent perhaps?) that even the Koreans are divided. Guess it’s a bit of a love and hate; those who love it really love it, and those who don’t, won’t even lick it.
My Korean friend told me some Koreans find it too raw, if there’s such a thing. And some think it’s too fishy.
This dish is basically salted and fermented. The sauce is made of soy sauce, chili pepper, ginger, dried kelp, onion and garlic. The sauce kindda layers on top of the raw crab, and it’s usually salty. Coz the crabs are raw, some people may find it too ‘slimy’ to stomach.
Ganjang gejang is quite complicated to prepare, since it first has to be salted with the special ganjang for about six hours in a earthenware crock. Basically the process involves salting it for an hour, then removing the sauce, reheating it, and salting it by pouring the sauce over it again, waiting, reheating and this is repeated several times.
It is important to get the marinade just right. If it’s not made right, it can be too salty. But if it’s not strong enough, the crabs will not ferment ‘properly’. If not fermented properly, the crabs will smell and even taste weird.
HOW TO EAT GANJANG GEJANG?
Just roll up your sleeves and dig in! I’m serious! No utensils or cutlery needed, best eaten with your bare hands!
To most peeps who love ganjang gejang, the highlight of the meal is mixing rice into the crab shell!
Just scoop rice into the crab shell and mix it all up, sauce and roe and all! You can just eat it like that, or you can scoop some of the mixed rice and wrap with seaweed (kim). Yumz either way!
The Koreans refer to ganjang gejang as ‘rice thief‘ (飯的小偷). Hehe, you’ll understand this when you find yourself with a gleaming empty bowl like this!
MY MAIDEN GANJANG GEJANG EXPERIENCE!
I had gone to one of the most popular ganjang gejang restaurants at the GANJANG GEJANG ALLEY @ SINSA DONG.
It’s one of the first few restaurants right at the beginning of the alley, very easy to find. Or, you can also refer to (A) in the map below.
Ya, the Masan one.
Here’s the big bright signboard. You can’t miss the (gaudy!) artificial flowers ‘plamted’ outside, hehe!
It’s open 24-hours. And it’s all floor seating, so ya, you gotta take off your shoes.
Here, the menu.
Zzang! Flipping open the menu!
If you can’t speak Korean, but can speak either Japanese or Mandarin, then you won’t have any trouble ordering your food.
Basically, the big portion is 75,000KRW and the small portion is 50,000KRW. The small one’s good for two people, and that was what we had ordered.
Even if you can’t speak any of the three languages, you shouldn’t have any problem either, since there’re pictures of the dishes in the menu. Or just point to whatever you want to have at someone else’s tables, hee!
Ordered, and ready to eat!
Side dishes (banchan) first!
And the heavenly fooooood!
Peeps, meet Ganjang Gejang!!
And I’d thought I’d be fine back home without it… you know, just looking forward to my reunion with Ganjang Gejang during my next trip to Seoul…
Until my friends decided to go to Seoul and eat Ganjang Gejang. One of them had texted us this earlier this evening.
That’s not all! These ‘evil people‘ had already uploaded pictures lor lor lor!
Here’s one from the sugar-free one!
And this was shared by Little Twin Stars!
The gals had gone to PRO SOY CRAB, supposedly one of the best in this business. It’s in a tall swanky building, also in the Ganjang Gejang Alley vicinity. Check out (G) in the map below.
You can also click HERE to read more about PRO soy crab.
After dinner, you can take a nice walk along the uber trendy Garosugil, which is full of chic Seoulites. Lots of hip cafes for you to people-watch.
I think celebrities hang out there too. I remember running into Jay Park there once.
Hehe, that was what we did evening after Ganjang Gejang. Walked back to the subway station to get to Garosugil. Saw this Choovely (Choo + Lovely) father-and-daughter lightbox at Sinsa subway station last year!
Take subway line 3 to Sinsa Station and go out exit 4. Walk straight for about 20 meters and take a right. Walk for about 80 meters and you should see the beginning of Ganjang Gejang Alley.