Oodles of noodles

This colourful dish is one of my favourite Korean noodle dishes, warming, refreshing and filling at the same time!

Korean cuisine has many brothy dishes, and the many that I love have a peculiar quality in that drinking them always makes me feel warm and refreshed at the same time. I can’t say exactly what it is, but these meals always leave me feeling cleansed and content, and as a result are a great meal to have if you’ve been out for a night on the town the day before.

This particular dish goes by the name of “mool gooksu” (water noodles), and is very simply thin wheat noodles in this restorative broth with a variety of elements placed on top and mixed in just before consuming. The additional ingredients can vary and you certainly don’t have to include anything you don’t like, so this element also makes this a wonderfully versatile dish that can easily be altered to suit a family of fussy eaters. The only down side (though I don’t see it as much of a problem) is that there’s a little bit of work required, so if you’re wanting to sit down to a meal in 15 minutes then this isn’t the one you should choose.

This is a dish that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The stock for this is quite a simple one made with just kombu/dashima, dried shiitake mushrooms, onion and dried anchovies, yet the initial creation makes quite a strong smell that fills the kitchen with it’s warmth. Though no one memory rides on this dish, there have been many lunches and dinners where I’ve inhaled the smell of the cooking broth and listened to the sizzle of the frying pan as my ma prepared each component of this dish. Every time this is served, I can’t wait to sit down to this bowl with all it’s colours, all the vegetables cut into thin strips by my ma, neat enough to rival any mandolin slicer.

Though this dish is rarely seen in the hot summer months, the mercury has been dropping lately as we progress further into the cooler seasons, and soon, when it’s cold and miserable and raining outside, I know that I’ll smell this dish being cooked. And, when I sit down to share it with my family, for those moments the world will seem like a warmer, more comforting place.

Mool Gooksu (Korean mixed noodles in anchovy broth)

Ingredients (to serve 4)
About 10 dried ‘soup anchovies
2-3 large pieces of dashima/kombu
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
4L water
1 large pk thin wheat soba noodles
2 medium onions
1 medium carrot
1 medium zucchini
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 sheets of toasted nori/gim
Oil, for frying
200g beef mince/thinly sliced beef tenderloin (must be sliced almost paper thin!)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil

1. Mix together the soy sauce, caster sugar, ginger, garlic and sesame oil, then massage the mixture into the beef. Set aside for now. Soak 4 of the shiitake mushrooms in boiling water and also set aside.

2. Heat the anchovies in the microwave for about 15 seconds and quarter one of the onions, then throw them both into a hot pot along with 2 shiitake mushrooms and the dashima/kombu. Do not add any oil and fry them together for a few seconds before adding the water. Bring this to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about 20-30 minutes, till the soup is well flavoured and taken on a very faint milky tint. Remove the anchovies, mushrooms and dashima.

3. Finely slice the onion, julienne the carrot and the zucchini. Put the zucchini in a bowl, add the salt and toss through to evenly coat and set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the carrot and the onion seperately in a little oil, till they have softened a bit, then set aside.

4. Squeeze some of the liquid out of the salted zucchini, then fry them till softened and also set aside. Pour the beaten eggs into the frying pan and fry till golden on both sides. Remove this ‘egg sheet’ and finely slice into little strips the same size as your carrot strips. Cut up the nori sheets into pieces the same size and set aside.

5. Remove the soaked shiitake mushrooms from the water, squeeze out any excess water and finely slice them to roughly the same width as the carrot and egg strips. Fry up the marinated beef and set aside for now.

6. Boil the noodles, drain them and then put into each of the bowls. Ladle some broth over the top of the noodles, then arrange some carrot, zucchini, mushroom, beef, onion and egg around the bowl, and some strips of toasted nori in the centre.

7. Serve, and enjoy with some kimchi on the side :)

Definitely not the quickest dish, but the tastiness is certainly worth the effort! Next time you know you’re in for a spot of cold weather and want a nice, tasty and filling noodle soup, give this one a try!

[tags]korean cuisine, korean, noodles, soup, broth, asian, recipe[/tags]

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