I spent a bit of time debating the title of this post. You see, to me, the image it evokes is immediately nostalgic and tasty, yet I can see how someone who is unfamiliar with this dish would read it and think “WTF?!” to themselves. I mean, even the more well known warm broth which is the winter sister to this still manages to get a hesitant reception when its placed in front of people who are yet to overcome the mental block of eating seaweed.
Having grown up with the stuff, I guess I can’t see what the hang-up is. Seaweed has many health benefits and is actually quite mild in flavour as far as vegetables go (not having grown up with rocket, the first time I tasted it I actually spat it out, though I love it now!), and people seem to have no problem chowing down on sushi, which is essentially a seaweed wrap! So, why the hang-up with seaweed broth?
Personally, I believe its in the presentation – sheets of nori may smell and taste like seaweed, but dried into sleek, shiny sheets of black, they appear inoffensive and are really only secondary to the vast array of fillings on offer therefore the taste is not distinguished or set apart. However, in a soup, the leaves of seaweed happily swimming in the clear broth may remind some people a bit too much of staring into the open ocean with a spoon…
Well, that’s purely speculation on my part - what do you think?
A word of warning about this particular dish – those who don’t like strong vinegar or seaweed flavours are advised to keep clear – this dish celebrates both these elements so if you’re sensitive to either (or both) flavours, this cold broth is likely to punch you out cold. However, if you’re like me and you loooooove sweet, vinegary things and love anything that comes from the ocean, then I’d advise that you make this as soon as the weather is warm enough to permit a cold soup. This is one of the most refreshing summer dishes I know of, and all the members of my family are happy to down a large bowlful for any meal during the hot & humid days of summer. While the seaweed and the vinegar provide the cooling elements of the dish, the chilli and the garlic arrive with flags waving as the aftertaste of this dish, balancing the cold with their heat and pungency.
As my mother puts it perfectly – this dish is all about a balancing act. It should leave you feeling refreshed but not cold, full but not heavy, fill your mouth with flavour but also help to ‘cleanse’ the palate. Now how many dishes do you know of that attempt (usually quite successfully) to do all that?
I’m not going to go as far as to say this miraculous-sounding cold broth is going to cure cancer, but if you’re looking for a different, refreshing dish to try in the heat of summer, then may I suggest you give this a shot?
(Cold Seaweed Broth)
3L cold water
3 tbsp salt
5 tbsp caster sugar
1 cup white/rice vinegar
8-10 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean crushed red pepper)
450g miyeok (Korean dried soup seaweed)
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp white/rice vinegar
1 medium sweet thin-skinned cucumber, julienned
Toasted sesame seeds, to serve
1. Bring 3L of water to a boil in a large pot, then turn off the heat and add the salt and sugar, stirring till completely dissolved. Add the vinegar, garlic and crushed red pepper to the pot and stir, then pour into a non-reactive container and transfer to your fridge and leave till completely cool.
2. While the seasoned water is cooling, put the seaweed in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water till submerged and leave for 5-15 minutes or till the seaweed is completely rehydrated. Strain out all the excess water, then put the strained seaweed in a bowl and add a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp caster sugar and 2 tbsp vinegar and massage well so that the seaweed is evenly seasoned. Put into an airtight container into the fridge.
3. Once the seasoned water has completely cooled, remove it from the fridge and add the seasoned seaweed to the pot. Give it a good stir and taste it – if it is too vinegary then add a little sugar to help lighten it, or if its not vinegary enough then add a little more vinegar (incidentally, this is meant to be somewhat vinegary as opposed to sweet or salty). Once you’ve achieved the flavour balance that seems OK to your tastebuds, stir in the julienned cucumber and store in the fridge to be enjoyed as you please!
[tags]sea mustard, seaweed, miyeok, summer soup, Korean cuisine, recipes, Asian cooking[/tags]