This is one of those times when pairing is half luck and half rules. I got a call from a friend to join him at a nearby restaurant for seafood something. I grabbed a bottle of white that has enough structure to handle Korean spice and seafood textures. And it really worked.
아꾸찜 Agujjim is made from the very ugly and ferocious-looking 아귀 (Monkfish). 아귀 also means hungry demon in Korean which makes sense since the fish has a huge mouth.
The monkfish 아귀 is steamed and seasoned with hot chili pepper powder, doenjang 된 장, ganjang 간장 (soy sauce), minced garlic 마늘, and chopped scallions 파. The vegetables act to cool down the chili and add texture. Kongnamul 콩 나물 (soybean sprouts), mideodeok (미더덕, Styela clava), and minari (미나리, water dropwort) are mixed with sesame seeds and tons of chili. The flavor profile wasn’t completely dominated by the chili. The sesame seeds and bean sprouts cooling and contrasting the spice. Crunchy vegetable textures and plenty of vitamins here.
Agujjim is from Masan, South Gyeongsang Province where local fishermen would ask cooks from the market eateries to create a tasty dish from the ugly fish. Until the 1940s, the fish was not eaten and was often thrown out due to its ugliness and low commercial value. The 아꾸 fish is now rarer (and more expensive), and has become valued as a delicacy.
The really worked with the wine, emphasizing the mid palate fruit and minerality. Neither wine nor the heavily textural food dominated. There was real harmony, the wine having enough structure to handle the spice.
Le Fruit Defendu Domaine Magellan Blanc is a vin de pays wine. Anyone who says VdP are not serious wines should try this blend of Grenache and Muscat. It has an aromatic nose with plenty of minerality. Palate is rounded and soft with fresh fruit. There’s architecture and a crisp mineral finish. The wine is a little tight and punchy at first but it’s beautifully integrated after 30min.
Excellent value for money at 22,500 won retail. (Imported by Vinestock)
At the time of writing, this is being served in Pierre Gagnaire Seoul as their wine by the glass.