Thursday, January 21, 2010
Korean Food Encyclopedia: Soups! (Part 1: 순대국)
One thing that we discovered shortly after arriving here is how much Koreans love to eat soup. In any kind of weather, and of every conceivable variety: thin broths, thick, hearty stews, hot soups, cold soups, vegetarian soups, meat soups, etc. Previously we had known about and fallen in love with sundubu while living in D.C., but other than that I had eaten very few Korean soups, and was certainly unaware of how central they were to the cuisine. Guk, tang, jang, jjigae: there are at least four names for soups/stews in Korean as well, and, similar to mandu, I am in the process of untangling their referents (jjigae is basically stew; the others seem a little more ambiguous).
Since there are so many, I'm not going to make this an exhaustive post, but will start instead with one of our current favorites: sundaeguk, or blood-sausage soup.
Before I moved here, I had tried sundae(pronounced "soon-day") sliced with a salt-and-pepper mix for dipping, but never in soup. Here you can also frequently find it as a street snack mixed with bright red ddeokbokki sauce. Having tried all three, I am currently partial to sundaeguk, partially because of its accompaniments.
Radish kimchi and a dish of barley (in addition to white rice)
Raw chilies with ssam jang
One restaurant serves this delicious, smoky pepper paste with it (and I keep forgetting the name; when I remember I'll edit this entry).
Although so far I have only eaten at two sundaeguk restaurants, from what I can tell, one commonality is this shrimp sauce that is served with it.
I'm looking forward to trying other versions. Any recommendations?