28 (Sun) February 2016
Miyeok Guk with Sundubu
in my apartment
Miyeok guk (미역국) is a Korean soup. Kelp (miyeok), sautéed in sesame oil with garlic, and usually pieces of beef, seasoned with soy sauce, then boiled in water and/or stock. Regarded as being rich in iron and other nutrients. Among the most popular soups in Korean cuisine. Served as a matter of life-and-death in a woman’s postpartum recovery regimen (see for example 3.096 Postpartum Recovery Meal). Also served for breakfast on a person’s birthday. Generally more common at home, though sometimes offered as a side dish along with a larger spread in restaurants, rarely as a dish in itself (see for example 2.219 Hwangtae Miyeok Guk).
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(serves 4 side portions, 2 full portions)
- 25 grams of kelp
- 4 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
- 15 grams of minced garlic (about 1 loosely packed tablespoon, or 4 large cloves)
- 1.5 tablespoons of Yeondu
- 1/4 teaspoon (or more) of ground black pepper
- 350 ml (1 package) of beef stock
- 400 grams (1 tube) of sundubu (silky tofu) [optional]
Whereas packaged beef bone stock (see for example 1.323 Ddeok Mandu Guk) or the concentrate (see for example 4.169 Mandu-Mushroom Guk) may not be readily available outside of Korean markets, a proper stock could – and should – be rendered from scratch, whether tail (see recipe 3.111 Ggori Tang), shank (see generally 3.361 Sagol Tang), or mixed (see generally 4.023 Muu Guk). In the absence of bone stock, adding chunks of beef, which I never do, would create a different sort of stock, leaner in texture and perhaps beefier in flavor depending on the cut of meat. Plain water would also do, but the resulting broth wouldn’t provide depth of texture and flavor.
Yeondu is a bottled seasoning: soy-based, delicate blend of salty and sweet. Somewhere between soy sauce and oyster sauce, but lighter in texture, and without the heavy flavor; this is the “mild” version (“regular” comes in orange packaging). Works on everything, from soups to stir-fries. Introduced to the market just a few years ago, the product has become an indespensible all-in-one ingredient for many home cooks.
If Yeondo is unavailable, Yeondu seasoning may also be replaced by a combination of soy sauce and sugar.
IMPORTANT: this recipe is formulated on the basis of the packaged beef bone stock, which is salty out of the bag. The amount of Yeondu, or soy sauce or salt, would need to be adjusted if an unseasoned alternative stock, or water, were used – perhaps 1 additional tablespoon of Yeondu and/or salt to taste.
Due to the uneven volume of dried kelp, weight is the only accurate measure. Eyeballing, with improvised seasoning adjustments during the cooking, will eventually work out.
1. Combine kelp and water in bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
2. Squeeze water from kelp.
3. Cut kelp (with scissors or knife) into smaller pieces, as necessary.
4. In large sauce pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat and sauté garlic for 10 seconds.
5. Add kelp, Yeondu, and ground black pepper, and stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
6. Add beef bone stock and remaining water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
7. Add tofu and simmer for another 10 minutes.
8. Check for seasoning – add salt if necessary, water if too salty (because the soup will typically be served with steamed rice, a little salty is okay).
9. Serve with steamed rice – suggestion: add the rice into the soup.