With a lot of us staying inside these days, it’s quite easy to get stuck in a rut of cooking the same thing day in, day out. Even if we have more free time to try things, now more than ever people want to fall back on the familiar. But that doesn’t mean that trying something new is the opposite of this.
Something comforting, quick and filling? Many Korean soup dishes will have you covered. Soups and broths have always been the go-to food during the winter for these exact reasons. Kongnamul gukbap, or Soybean sprout soup with rice, is super healthy, light on your stomach and also filling. Perfect for days spent inside where something heavy can really drag you down.
Kongnamul gukbap is often associated with Jeonju, where there are a few very popular spots to order from. Supposedly, the clean water from the area, and the mater chefs that have perfected the recipes for their broths over many years, make it the best place to get a version of the dish. It’s also apparently a very good hangover cure, which says a lot for it’s light but filling taste.
Its components are simple; broth, soybean sprouts and rice. Each of these requires only a few ingredients to make and can, of course, be personalised to your taste. Some might make a broth with anchovies for example, whilst others will use fish sauce. The soup is made by boiling together spring onion, water, a fish element as mentioned above, the soybean sprouts, garlic, and often some seasoning, as well as chilli flakes if you want a little heat. The rice is cooked first, then added to the bowl before the soup and beansprouts are poured over. Its usually served in earthenware bowls in order to cook it further and maintain the temperature, but can be served in other ways if needed. It’s topped with sesame seeds and oil, some more spring onion, and can frequently be given alongside kimchi and a raw or partly cooked egg. These finally two ingredients can be added on top if desired.
The recipe, though incredibly straightforward, aims to put as much flavour into the soup so that the rice will absorb it all, turning slightly sticky. And that’s the key the kongnamul gukbap – it’s a soup with rice. It’s never meant to have too much rice to overwhelm the rest of the ingredients, only enough to end to them. There are also variations without the rice, or without the soup.
Easy, different and nutritious. If we’ve got you intrigued enough to want to give this a go, check out some of the videos below for some recommendations on precise recipes. Let us know if you try cooking some soybean sprout soup, or any other new Korean dish. We’d love to hear what ideas you’ve had!