Monday, November 15, 2010
Kimchi dough flake soup (sujebi)
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.