Anchovy Sauce (Myeolchi Aekjeot)

Anchovy sauce is a kind of fish sauce.

This is a picture of the anchovy sauce bottle (멸치액젓) I was talking about the other day. (I added it when I made radish Kimchi)

salted anchovies

I bought it for 1600 won (US $1.70) for 416 ml. (Odd number, isn’t it?) It is made of long fermented and simmered anchovies. The sauce is light brown.

You can use anchovy sauce when you make Kimchi, brown seaweed soup, sesame leaves Kimchi, or stew (jjigae), as a substitute for soy sauce. I knew it could be used in Kimchi, but I didn’t know about the other dishes. *ashamed grin*

I will demonstrate other dishes using this sauce some other time, so stay tuned on this blog. :)

Update: Please refer below Chris’ comment (Mar 20, 2007), which contrast the Korean anchovy sauce with other kinds of anchovy sauce. I cannot verify whether the information is correct or not, however, it might give you some sort of guidance when you are choosing one.

Korean anchovy sauce

Other anchovy & fish sauce

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Hi, I'm Sue and I am the author/cook/photographer behind My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!


  1. Just noticed this exchange. No, you can’t (use Thai/Vietnamese fish sauce instead). Or rather, it depends. :)

    Korean anchovy sauce is actually an active fermentation agent. In the old days, you pounded what were essentially slightly old and basically raw anchovies or certain kinds of squid (there are regional variations), and then you tossed this in with the vegetables. At a fairly cool temperature, in the dark, the combination of salt, hot chili powder, vegetable sugar, and the seafood would produce fermentation. Then, four months later or so, you dig up your pot of kimchi and it’s great. This is why kimchi keeps a long time and is tingly on the tongue. (Incidentally a variation on the same process creates sauerkraut.) Korean anchovy sauce is a modern derivative that is more stable and consistent than actual raw anchovies, and requires less careful handling. It does have a distinctive taste, but it’s not really “sauce” in that sense at all.

    By contrast, Thai fish sauce is made from fermented fish, and the process is artificially stopped at the end. So it’s sort of like opposite ends of a process: anchovy sauce, once well fermented and so forth, turns into something like fish sauce. But fish sauce will not cause controlled fermentation, and it most definitely doesn’t taste the same.

    That said, using fish sauce will produce a good flavor, albeit not a very Korean one. But you MUST NOT use it to enhance kimchi fermentation, or you are likely to end up with rotten kimchi — and I mean rotten as in rotting food, not as in “doesn’t taste nice.”

    Good luck. Fortunately, if you’re into Korean food, you can mail-order anchovy sauce easily, and it keeps forever.

  2. Hi Pepy,

    I am not really sure if Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce are the same as Korean fish sauce. I’ve never bought any.
    I can’t guarantee the same taste if you use it. :)

  3. Can I use Thai/Vietnamese fish sauce instead?

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