Monday, November 15, 2010

Kimchi dough flake soup (sujebi)

Actually, the featured ingredient in this post isn't the kimchi dough flake soup, or anything in it, but rather an ingredient in the little sauce on the salad, namely Korean soy bean paste (dwenjang).

You might think that Korean soy bean paste would be a lot like Japanese miso, and if you did, you would be right, and also wrong.

It's like Japanese miso plus

Take a look at the ingredient list:

I was pretty intrigued!  The packet is sealed with two layers of wrappings, a main papered-plastic type seal, and a waxed paper underseal typical of miso packages.  Between them is a little pillow of some mystery substance marked, in several languages, "Do not eat - gas absorber."  Even more intrigued!  Here's what it looks like:

A lot like miso, except that there is more texture, a few whole or half beans....  It tastes more or less like miso, but with a much more layered, complex, and subtle flavour.  I love it, and if you like miso, you probably will too.

What I made with it is the Spicy soybean paste from Cecilia Hae-Jin Yee's Quick and Easy Korean Cooking, which is just this soybean paste, Korean chile paste, crushed garlic, sesame oil, and rice wine:

Ms. Lee says that "This is usually served with grilled meats and leaves of curly leaf lettuce or perilla leaves for wrapping.  It also makes a good dip for sliced cucumbers, carrots, or Korean green chilies."  I was feeling like a light supper tonight, so I did the wraps without any "meat."  Powerful, but tasty.  It would go well with grilled tofu or seitan.

And because I couldn't find the recipe online to share with you, as an added bonus I give you...dough flakes!  Also from Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee's book, she's a big fan of these since she features them twice.  There's nothing simpler - 1 cup of all-purpose flour to 1/4 cup water.  Stir it, knead it (hard to do, this stuff is dry and tough), then refrigerate it for a little and pick off pieces and simmer them in your soup for 5-7 minutes.  Her pictures are, admittedly, awesome.  In them the dough flakes look like cute flattened little gnocchi, but I have to say, gnocchi would have tasted better and I'll stick with my own dumplings of genius in future.  Nevertheless, it was a fun experiment.

As a postscript, now that I am searching the Internet for a similar recipe to share, I see I might have been misled by my recipe into making my dough flakes much tougher than they needed to be.  Check this recipe by Maangchi, and how pretty the result can be if you're not working with a thick, tough dough.  Next time!  My recipe was similar to hers, only instead of potatoes I used kimchi and Korean red pepper paste and I veganized it and everything.  It looks like Maangchi added kimchi to her soup before she served it, too, though it isn't in the actual recipe.


  1. It does look just like miso, I bet it would be good on tofu. I'll have to look for it next time I'm at the Asian supermarket. Thanks! learned another cool thing today. :-)

  2. I kind of want to eat the whole spoonful looking at your photo! The sauce with it sounds delicious.

    I am intrigued by the dough flakes.

    Thanks as usual for the introduction to exciting, exotic (to me at least) ingredients.

  3. The dough flakes do sound like gnocchi. "Dough flakes" must be a translation thing, but it's catchy. Next time I make noodles, I think I'll refer to them as dough flakes. (Yikes, I must be more tired than I realized.) Everything looks good to me — the soup as well as the Korean-style miso.

  4. I have been following your MoFO posts everyday. Your photo's are so creative. I wished I lived closer to you so that I could eat your leftovers! BTW, thanks for the kimchi. It is all gone :(

  5. The great thing about dwenjang is that the nutrients in it can withstand heat (or so I hear), unlike miso which shouldn't be heated. Your food looks great, I love korean food and am really craving it now. :)

  6. I've read this post three times and I'm still not sure what's going on. There's some new variety of miso, some kimchi soup, some tough dumplings. I'm confused and only can only get exciting about the gas absorbing sheets.

  7. Chow, I'm going to try the sauce I made on tofu, and I bet it is delicious.

    Rose and Andrea, I just wish I had seen the Maangchi pictures before I started cooking. "Dough flakes" captured me too, the first time I read it.

    Katee, thanks! A new batch of kimchi is going into the jar today :)

    Islaborg, very true, I didn't see any warnings about heating the dwenjang. I'm looking forward to trying it in soup.

    Shenandoah, sorry you didn't like the post. I'm trying not to go on and on this month especially since I'm featuring a lot of things that I know very little about; maybe there was just too much happening in in this one.