Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A.Korean Flavor: Let's make seaweed soup. 미역국

Are you ready to get back in the kitchen and cook up some magic? Last month was the first post in a new series of "Korean flavors" blog posts.  We made the simple yet delicious dish, bibimbap.  We're finally back for round 2.

*Note: If you read the previous post you are probably seeing this again. Don't worry. Your eyes are not seeing double. It is double.  I compiled the contents of two posts into one, but would like to keep this one here for easy viewing.*

Let's see what it takes to put together this nourishing soup.  We will make the most simple dish here and explore some other common ingredients.

You'll need some of the basics, so check your cupboards and refrigerators first. Then head to your local Asian mart if you need something else.

   soy sauce               sesame oil                             dried seaweed                                         minced garlic                          water                  
You will need:

  • dried seaweed (미역 or wakame in Japanese) ~ 1 oz package
  • Korean sesame oil (기름) ~ 1 tablespoon 
  • soy sauce (간장) ~ 1 1/4 table spoon or to taste
  • minced garlic ~ 1 tablespoon (optional) or as much to taste.  
  • water (or a soup broth of your choice) ~ 6 cups
  • pinch of salt (optional)
Soak dried seaweed in a bowl of warm water for approximately 20 minutes to allow to expand.  Make sure the seaweed is soft. Soak time may vary according to brand of seaweed. When soft, rinse well and drain. Then cut the seaweed into 2 to 4 inch pieces.

Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Once heated add sesame oil, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, a little dab of salt and cook for 1 minute.*  Slowly stir in seaweed and remaining soy sauce. Cook for 1 minute more.
Pour in 2 cups of water and bring the ingredients in pan to a boil.  Add garlic and stir.

Pour the ingredients into a large pot.  Add the  remaining 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes or until seaweed and ingredients of choice are tender.
Season to taste with salt, soy sauce, or other fun flavor.  

This soup, like most dishes, is often served with or over rice.  Prepare some rice in advance. If you're like most Asians, there is always rice in the cooker.  Make sure you have enough for the eager mouths.  

When ready, dish the soup into bowls. Quickly serve this healthy delight.  Feel the warmth and energy running through your body with every swallow.

Extra goodies:
Add scallions for additional flavor and consistency.  Cut off the white ends, using only the green part. Chop green part into 2 inch pieces. Add while adding the last 4 cups of water.

Others will like their soup with one, some, or all of the following:

         beef sirloin                                    osyters and/or mussels                                tofu (tubu 두부).

*If you choose to use the beef or oysters and scallions, be sure they are prepared [i.e. cleaned and chopped] for use.  Find the (*) and insert where you add the sesame oil and soy sauce.
**You may also purchase a soft tofu and add this to your soup.  You will use approximately half of a cube. Clean and chop small tofu cubes before pouring into the soup.   I add the tofu right before letting the pot simmer.  Others will add it at the very end.  Do a little experimentation and figure out what works best for you.

Hope you enjoy your seaweed soup!  Have fun with it and make it your own! Korean cooking isn't about following a recipe or an exact science it's about mixing, matching and finding the flavors you love most.

Be nourished and loved with a warm bowl of miyok gook today!  

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