Days that I want 콩나물국 (soy bean sprout soup) include rainy days, days I don’t feel like getting out of bed, simply crappy days, and pretty much all other days. I have talked about bean sprouts before, but I am making another note, because really, it’s only recently that I have started to cook with soybean sprouts, and the possibilities are seemingly endless. My mom used to make me the soup when I was sick, with a lot of red pepper flakes. It’s something I’d never ask for. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever met anyone who would name a mung bean sprout dish as their favorite. But like the best things in life, you will never get sick of it. When done right, its flavors are minimal yet complex and homey, and it doesn’t stand out, but it accompanies everything perfectly.
Wash and pick through a generous amount of soybean sprouts, and boil it so that some of the sprouts can be used for the soup, and the rest for banchan. Too much water will take away the distict flavor of the sprouts. And sudden change in the temperature and the steam will bring out a weird fishy flavor, so it’s best to either keep the lid on the whole time with low heat, or leave it completely off for the entire duration. This will make more sence once you start cooking.
My dear garlic press finally broke, after 5 years or so and I have yet to replace it. For now, I am sticking to my mom’s favorite method which is to crush the cloves with the back of the knife. A lot of people use anchovies or oysters to enhance the flavor of the base, but for the soup, I like it plain, without anything else. I love the flavor of the sprouted bean, and a bit of garlic. So the image above are the most important ingredients of today’s menu.
I found this lady Maangchi’s site a while ago, and I absolutely love her videos. If you like quirkly, experienced ladies, or have any interest in Korean cooking at all, her site is a must. And I guess my thing really is to just show pictures and make little notes for myself, which isn’t the most helpful to everyone. So I will just refer you to her video on how to make bean sprout soup! Like I said, the fish-y things can be left out or substituted with kelp.
And here are my two bean sprout dishes. The soup, and the muchim.
I am guessing that soy bean sprouts has some protein, but as a vegetarian, I try to maximize my intake of protein and calcium with every meal. Pan-fried tofu is a fast and fool-proof way, and this is how most Korean people eat tofu at home. We don’t always do all that crazy fancy stuff that you see in American vegetarian restaurants. All you need is oil to grease the pan, and salt to taste.
Maybe one day I will learn to cut perfect squares of tofu.