12.124 Siraegi Gukbab


9 (Sun) May 2021

Siraegi Gukbab


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Siraegi (시래기) is dried radish greens.  Traditionally, after the radishes were harvested in the fall, the roots would be eaten fresh in various dishes, or fermented as kimchi (i.e., ggagdugi), while the tougher stems and leaves would be dried and stored to be eaten through the winter.  Most commonly, siraegi is boiled into a soup, often with doenjang (see for example 11.240 Cutting Board Boiled Pork Table d’Hôte), and served with rice (i.e., gukbab).  Like ugeoji (outer leaves of napa cabbage) (see for example 2.007 Ugeoji Sagol Tang), it’s a peasant food born of frugality and practicality, now respected as a symbol of humility and enjoyed for its heartiness.

I had purchased a package of siraegi a couple months back, thinking that I should learn to cook the wide variety of dried vegetables available in the supermarket.  It’s been sitting in the cupboard, kinda forgotten.

In my family, the one type of dish guaranteed to leave no leftovers is Korean soup, preferably spicy, accompanied by rice and/or noodles, like siraegi jjigae.

Curiously, I made a siraegi-based soup many years ago, a rare 4.0 by me dish (see 4.027 Siraegi Naengi Doenjang Jjigae), but never remade it again.

I combined all my favorite Korean ingredients: Ottogi Beef Bone Stock + Cheongjeongwon Doenjang + Beksul Spicy Bulgogi Sauce + Sempyo Yeondu + CJ Dasida Beef Bouillon.

Cheongjeongwon Gogitjib (Grill House) Doenjang is my favorite brand.  Whereas other doenjang pastes can be kinda stinky – some people like it that way – this one has a very clean flavor, a bit sweet, a bit spicy.   In addition to Korean soups, I also add some to Japanese miso soup for a slight kick.

The final trick was to add shaved beef brisket, which is always a quick, fail-proof method of amping up a broth, especially spicy ones.

The siraegi jjigae turned out very nicely.  The broth was deep and earthy from the doenjang, with a good kick from the bulgogi sauce, absurdly unctuous in beefiness from the 3-punch combo of the bone stock, bouillon, and brisket.  The siraegi were gorgeously bitter, medicinal, soft and inviting.  However, forgetting that siraegi takes 2 hours or more to tenderize, I made the mistake of adding the beef too early, so the fat had rendered out and the flesh was nearly disintegrated by the time the soup was done – ideally, the meat should still be a bit chewy.   Regardless, the family loved it so much that we finished the 3 cups of steamed rice in the cooker and zapped 2 additional instant rice bowls in the microwave.

When the theme of the next GMTD Battles! was set on comfort food, I had an idea.  But seeing the siraegi while cleaning out the cupboard this afternoon, I decided instead to make siraegi jjigae – a classic comfort food, especially for my family.   Afterwards, however, as I was writing this post and looking back at prior posts in the battle series (see BATTLES!), I suddenly realized that I had made almost the exact same dish, with the same base ingredients, for the blood battle – because the primary ingredients are so different (cow’s blood vs dried radish greens), the underlying similarity hadn’t registered.  So now, I’ve decided to post this siraegi jjigae as is and go back to my original idea for the comfort battle.

(See also FOODS)

(See also PLACES)

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