Thursday, March 07, 2013

soup's on, yo

Below you see the dwaenjang-jjigae you didn't eat tonight. Jjigae means something like stew; dwaenjang refers to the brown, fermented bean paste—a close cousin of Japanese miso—that gives this soup its distinct color, aroma, and flavor. Some Westerners find this soup hard to stomach because they perceive the odor as rotten. I've never had that problem, perhaps because I grew up with it.

My own version of dwaenjang-jjigae isn't particularly imaginative; I use pretty much the same veggies and seasonings found in budae-jjigae. Tonight's soup has the following ingredients:

cubed tofu (not sliced into strips as I do with budae)
green onion
white onion
kong-namul (soybean sprouts)
ssukkat (mugwort)
green squash
paengi-beoseot (enoki shrooms)
golbaengi (Korean escargot)
ground garlic
fish sauce
snail juice
chicken bouillon
saeu-jeot (salted krill, mainly to add fishiness)
gochujang (chili paste)
dwaenjang (fermented bean paste)

I happened to have eggplant on hand (my brother David had suggested eggplant pasta, instead of squash pasta, to go with my spaghetti sauce), so I threw that in instead of a second type of mushroom to keep the enoki/paengi company.

Traditionally, Korean dwaenjang-jjigae has myeolchi (anchovies—dried, in this case) as its base. I didn't have any of the little boogers on hand, so I had to enhance the fishiness in other ways. Hence the fish sauce and the krill.

Korean sea snails, golbaengi, have gotten expensive. These were six dollars a can, and I bought two cans. For tonight's stew, I chopped one can of snails into thirds before dumping the critters into the boil. God, I love golbaengi! They're so sweet and plump and delicious. I'm tempted to take a can of snails over to my buddy Mike's house, just to frighten his kids. Or maybe to offer a $20 bill to the kid who can eat three of them within five minutes.

No matter. I'm saving the second can of snails for a more French preparation: garlic, butter, and parsley sauce. (While a panko sprinkle would be tempting, that would mean carbs.)

Tremble before the jjigae:


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