I will readily confess that I am squeamish about eating most fish. That’s why, five months into my Korean Food Project, I have only cooked two fish dishes: this one and a fish soup called saengseon guk.

Fortunately, saengseon jiim is a good fit for people like me who are most comfortable eating bland fish or fish that is heavily spiced. The braising process makes the fish in saengseon jiim taste like red pepper powder, scallions and soy sauce. The result: a melange of classic Korean tastes that is not at all fishy.

Saengseon Jjim (Braised Fish) — 생선찜


  • 1 small Korean turnip or large daikon radish, chopped into 1-inch rectangles*
  • 1 lb. fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces [NOTE: I used cod.]
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • About 1 c. water
  • 1 Tbs. red pepper powder**
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce***

**Korean radishes are white, large and round, with a shape sort of like an enormous potato. Daikon radishes are much longer and sometimes referred to as “white carrots” because of their appearance. You should be able to find these radishes at Asian grocery stores and of course at Korean grocery stores. The photos above show what a Korean radish looks like.

**To make this recipe gluten free, I used San-J Organic Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (available at Whole Foods or for $6.69 + shipping on Amazon.com.)

***You can find plastic bags or canisters of Korean red pepper powder (called gochugaru in Korean) at Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.com for about $13 a poundGochugaru‘s consistency is between a coarse powder and a fine flake, so it is sometimes called red pepper powder or hot pepper powder and sometimes called red chili flakes. See photo above.


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Arrange turnips/radishes in one layer in the bottom of a medium-sized, flameproof casserole dish.
  • Arrange the fish pieces in one layer on top of the turnips/radishes.
  • Scatter about 3/4 of the scallions over the top of the fish.
  • Pour enough water into the casserole dish to cover half of the fish and vegetable mixture.
  • Mix the red pepper powder with the soy sauce in a separate dish and add this sauce mixture to the dish.
  • Place dish on top of a stove and bring it to a boil.
  • Remove dish from the stove, cover it and place it into an oven.
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
  • Remove dish from the oven and garnish with the remaining scallions before serving.

[Recipe from Foods of the Orient: Japan & Korea, now out of print]