Friday, May 21, 2010

Korean soup broth -- tteok guk

I've written about my deep love for Korean rice cake soup, tteok guk, before. But, I've struggled over the past few years to replicate the broth exactly as I've had it in *real* Korean kitchens.

Well, the mystery is solved. The broth I made last night was pretty spot on to the real thing. The secret ingredients? Dashida and Bonito flakes.

Dashida is ones of those things I learned about in Korea, when I was working in the kitchen at Ae Ran Won. The cook kept hers in a jar, so I never saw it in a bag, which, like this one, labels it as "soup stock beef flavor." I just knew that it definitely went into soups.

Now, I still don't actually know what bonito flakes are made of (something fishy, I suspect, based on the smell when I opened them), but I saw them being used in a Korean cooking video and decided I should give them a try.

Voila! It worked. I took 8 cups of water, 4 heaping teaspoons of dashida and 1 of those packets of bonito flakes (also about 1 tsp of garlic powder) and this was the result: a beautiful, pale broth with a lovely flavor.

I also managed to get my hands on some actual tteok-guk tteok. So yes, I now have 2 huge bags of tteok in different shapes. I also have a 6 kilo brick shaped box of gochuchang -- maybe I really *am* Korean!! The tteok gets boiled in the broth for just a couple of minutes, until they float, and mixed with some sliced beef and green onions.

Last steps: drizzle in the beaten eggs (2 eggs + 1 egg yolk for this soup), and slice the nori sheets (3) into the soup, crack an obscene amount of black pepper over the top, and drizzle with sesame oil.

But, really, you can do whatever the heck you want. The broth is the star of the soup, and it's a great thin, clear broth with a ton of flavor. Go forth, and soup like a Korean.

Dreaming? of Star Wars cookie cutters, thanks to Bakerella

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