18 (Sun) April 2021
Dak Kal Guksu
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with W and IZ (and DJ)
Korean-Swedish Culinary Exchange (14) (see also KSCX)
This time, for the first time, I cooked Korean and GK cooked Swedish, each making the other’s dish from the prior exchange.
By definition – “kal (knife) guksu (noodles)” – kal guksu noodles are meant to be made from scratch: the dough is rolled thin and cut by knife into strips.
I’ve made the noodles from scratch a few times in my life, only once in GMTD history (see 3.095 Chicken & Zucchini Jjajang Myeon with Kal Guksu).
These days, so-called “kal guksu” noodles can be purchased in dry form (see for example 6.084 Yuk-Kal) or “fresh” (see for example 7.154 Yuk-Kal), though neither offers the characteristic unevenness of hand-cut noodles.
GK had made his noodles from scratch, inspiring me to follow suit.
I had prepared the dough last night, wrapping it in plastic and letting it rest in the fridge. Although some recipes allow for the dough to be used right away, or at least following a short rest, I’ve found that a longer rest makes it easier to roll out.
Kal guksu can be served in a variety of broths. The most basic is dried anchovy (myeolchi), which are boiled in water then discarded (see for example 12.013 Kal Guksu). One step up is clams, typically Manila clams (bajirak) (see for example 2.203 Bajirak Kal Guksu). Another is chicken (dak) (see for example 1.149 Dak Kal Guksu). Other variations may include kimchi, dumplings, etc.
I prefer clams but often make it with chicken, which goes farther to feed the family.
To yesterday’s 1.5 liters of stock concentrate (see 12.102 Break Fast Chicken), I added another 1.5 liters of water; the concentrate as is would be ideal, but (a) the large amount of noodles that I was cooking required more volume of broth, and (b) it was too salty from the salt that I had added to season the chicken.
Whereas most recipes call for the noodles to be initially boiled separately then added later to the broth, I decided to boil the noodles directly in the broth so that the flour would act as a thickening agent; however, perhaps because I had used so much loose flour in rolling the noodles, and failed to shake off the excess, the broth ended up with an unpleasant floury aftertaste.
At the last minute, I added a couple dollops of my go-to spicy marinade/sauce/condiment, which not only masked the floury taste but added a welcome bit of heat.
It turned out okay. The broth was rich in chicken flavor, comfortingly goopy, with a nice kick of spice. The noodles were pleasingly uneven in texture, though a bit too soft for my liking – not overcooked, just naturally so. The chicken provided substance, enhanced by the sharpness of the fresh scallions. Everyone was quite happy with it.
I wonder, though, if I’ll ever make it again. Not convinced that it was worth the effort.
[NOTE: all comments in this section are in GK’s own words.]
For the meats, in going with the spirit of the dish (use what you have), I used pork tenderloin and entrecote (ribeye) that I had had in the freezer for a long time. (In hindsight maybe I should have bought some cheap sausage or something in order to use the ribeye for something more “fancy.”) I also added some already minced onion that I also had in the freezer, as well as “newly” minced onion.
I also added fried eggs. One of them looks kinda messy in the picture, but it tasted good, as well as pickled beets and HP-sauce.
I also fried some factory made pytt i panna in order to compare the two. I guess it will be easy to see which part of the plate has the home made ones and which has the factory made ones. Come to think of it, I doubt Swedish farmers in the days of yore cut their potatoes, meat and onions in really small and perfect cubes.
So how did it go? I think adding previously frozen onion was a mistake, since the texture of it was kinda off. I think it also made it harder to get “searing”/”a surface” on the other ingredients. In hindsight, I could also have fried the different ingredients separately and then mixed them to get an even browning. I also think I boiled the potatoes a little too long, making them too soft/watery, which also might have made it harder to get them nicely fried.
All in all a good try! I might try it again with some different ingredients and ways of preparing it.
P.S. The pickled beets came in a jar with a lid, thus not necessitating a can opener. 😉
While the objective of KSCX is to challenge each other (i.e., by learning to cook dishes from each other’s countries), I believe that this exchange retained the spirit of the collaboration (i.e., by relearning to cook our native dishes that otherwise we might not have attempted under normal circumstances).
On my end, I was happy to confirm that I am ready and able to make kal guksu, should the opportunity ever arise again, even if it’s not really my thing.
Looking at GK’s dish, I was happy to confirm that my own pytt i panna seemed to come pretty close, at least in appearance, to the real deal. I’d appreciate some details on what seasonings were used. And what is HP sauce?
It’s funny that I am slowly becoming an expert in Swedish cuisine, though the only Swedish dishes that I have tasted have been by myself, except maybe that one time at IKEA (see 11.169 Swedish Meatballs) – does that count?
On that note, I just searched for “swedish restaurant seoul” and discovered this: https://hemlagatseoul.com/. I will visit as soon as I can. I am so excited!! In the meantime, I would appreciate advice from GK on which dishes from the menu are traditional dishes that I should try.
Incidentally, my family has agreed to make Sweden our first post-pandemic family vacation destination. If pytt i panna isn’t served in restaurants, GK will have to cook it for us in his home.
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