Sunday, January 11, 2009
(Korean) Soup's On
I kicked off the new year in style -- Korean style, that is -- with the best rice cake soup I've ever made. Koreans eat ttukguk on New Year's day. I honestly don't know why, but we do. And I have, on every single January 1st of my life. This year was no exception, but I decided to make it with real home-made broth. So I took a chunk of brisket and some bone marrow and boiled them for hours and hours with garlic, ginger, onion and green onion. The broth was superb, if I may say so myself. All I had to do was season it with salt and pepper, add the thinly sliced rice cakes, wait until the rice cakes got soft, add one beaten egg and chopped green onions after removing the soup from heat. I like to toast a sheet of dried seaweed on the stove and crush them over the soup right before eating it as garnish and a crunchy, earthy flavor. Add a few slices of the brisket in small pieces and you've got a perfectly comforting and nutritious soup to start the new year.
I also wanted to thank HK for making another heartwarming classic -- spicy seafood soup (meuntang) -- that thankfully she made a life-time supply of and I had leftovers that got better with time. It had fish, tofu, radishes, two kinds of mushrooms, onions and sutkat, a peppery green (chrysanthemum leaves) that rounds out the spicy flavor. It was slow cooked for hours and in the end, I could really taste the ingredients' melding flavors.
I haven't tried the linked recipes but like everything else, Korean cooking is all about "jeokdanghee," which literally translates to "an appropriate amount," or eyeball, as we say here.
I haven't yet found restaurants in Koreatown serving good ttukguk (too much MSG) or meuntang (not simmered long enough so there's no depth of flavor or the fish smells far too fishy -- not a good sign), so I'd love to hear about them if you know of any.