Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kimchi Noodle Soup

Since last night, I was in the mood for some kind of noodle soup. Not in the mood to eat a carbohydrate laden meal after we had settled in for the evening, I reluctantly pushed the idea out of my mind.

This morning, while looking through some pictures of my contacts on Flickr, I saw a delicious bowl of noodles. Argh! Not wanting to duke it out with frantic last minute Easter meal planners, I scanned the refrigerator expecting to make a fried noodle dish. 

365-280 Kimchi Noodle soup
Day 280/365

While foraging for ingredients and ideas with the refrigerator door agape, a large, ancient bottle of kimchi (forgotten for at least a year judging from the July 2011 ?expiration date) came into view. A red container of gochujang sat to my right in a cubby along the refrigerator door. The gears in my head began to creak. I knew I had a container of miso in the vegetable drawer, but no tofu. Koji ajitsuke baby clams that my father sent me were staring at me from the second shelf. I dug into my dried noodle stash and found a few bundles of buckwheat noodles and oat flour noodles.

Like a puzzle falling into place with a few missing pieces, kimchi jjigae inspired soup with oat flour noodles became the functional plan. Due to the impromptu nature of this dish with rummaged ingredients, I do not have an exact recipe to share. The amounts listed are a rough approximation. As is frequently the case, even when cooking with recipes, I sampled intermittently and adjusted to taste.

several cups of water
several pieces of konbu
1 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
1 Tbsp yellow miso
1/4 c infused water from two rehydrated shiitake
2 tsp grated and minced ginger
2 shiitake, rehydrated and sliced
1-1/2 c kimchi, sliced
1/2 c koji ajitsuke baby clams (Japanese seasoned baby clams)

For the broth, simmer the water with konbu, gochujang, miso, and shiitake infused water. To create the shiitake infused water, I heated 1/4 c of water in a small microwave safe glass cup for 45 seconds, then soaked the dried mushrooms for approximately 10 minutes.

When the edges of the broth form tiny bubbles, add the sliced shiitake and ginger, then simmer for a few minutes. Add the kimchi and baby clams, then simmer for a few more minutes. This is a good point to ascertain whether the soup needs more miso, ginger, gochujang, or a different flavor like shoyu, as desired.

The remaining ingredients were what I had on hand and not traditional at all to kimchi jjigae. Well, the seasoned baby clams added above are not traditional, but it did add shoyu and some body to the soup.

As pictured, I added:
4 bird's eye chili peppers, seeded then minced
1 c edamame, steamed then shelled
1 c asparagus, sliced
1 c red peppers, sliced
2 bundles of oat flour noodles, cooked just short of al dente
1 egg
shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice, literally, "7-flavor chile pepper")

Most of the bird's eye chili peppers were added to the soup, with a pinch reserved as garnish. Since the edamame were already cooked, and asparagus and red peppers take only a couple minutes to cook, they were incorporated into the soup just a couple minutes prior to turning off the heat.

When I have eaten kimchi jjigae at restaurants, the egg appears to be added in the kitchen last so it arrives poached in its bubbling cauldron, or at the table. I added the egg in my bowl, then sprinkled shichimi togarashi and a pinch of the minced serrano peppers.

As listed, this makes around 5-6 servings.

A couple of things to note:
1. Oat flour noodles have a subtler flavor than buckwheat noodles, but are gluten-free.
2. Do not boil miso, as it kills the healthy enzymes.
3. Tofu is part of kimchi jjigae and would have been desirable had I not forgotten to re-stock our supply.

This was my first time making this dish. While it didn't taste exactly like the kimchi jjigae I've had at restaurants, it was close and I quite enjoyed it. Along with clam and squid bits, I'll often find bulgogi pieces in my jjigae at restaurants, so the sweetness of the seasoned clams, which was barely noticeable, was not alien.

Bug enjoyed his bowl apparently, since he asked that I make this again. However, he suggested that I add more miso next time. In addition, I'll set aside more bird's eye chili peppers to add more heat to my bowl so the soup is not overly spicy for others.

- Cassaendra

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