Korean Seaweed Soup (Myokguk)
By Hisoo Shin Hepinstall, Growing up in a Korean Kitchen: A Cookbook
15 minutes to prepare and cook
1 tablespoon sesame oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
2 large sweet green onions, or 4 green onions, white and pale green part only, sliced into ¼-inch cubes
1 tablespoon toenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
½ tablespoon koch’ujang (Korean hot red pepper paste)
6 cups Clear Chicken Stock or Beef Stock
1 ounce dried kelp (sil myok), rehydrated for 5 minutes and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain and discard solids. In a nonreactive stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, green onions (reserving some for garnish), toenjang and koch’jang. Sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chicken stock and bring to a full boil. Add the kelp and soy sauce. Gently boil for 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning with black pepper.
To serve, ladle the soup into individual serving bowls. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.
Chef’s Tip: To this basic recipe, you may add cubed bean curd and meat, such as ground beef, chicken or seafood.
Chef’s Quote: In the Korean mind, mothers and myokguk are inseparable. Loaded with nutrition, it is the daily fare for expectant mothers. When a child is born, as a celebration of life, myokguk and rice are offered to samshin, the three gods of childbirth. For the next several months, myokguk remains a staple of a new mother’s diet. Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, alginic acid, calcium, iron, and vitamins C, B1, B2, and B12. Myokguk is a must at a Korean child’s one hundredth day celebration (paek-il-nal) and henceforth our customary birthday soup, just as birthday cake is in other lands. Today, myokguk remains one of Koreans’ favorite soups. It is delicious and simple to make.