[Hallyupedia] Kongguksu (콩국수)

윤지현 / 차민경 인턴 / 2021-07-10 07:00:33
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by Yun Ji Hyun / Cha Min Kyung

[ENG] Korean cold soybean noodle dish

▲ This photo captured on Naver and originally provided by the Rural Development Administration cooking information shows Korea's cold soybean noodle dish, Kongguksu. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


Kong-guk-su is one of Korea's representative noodle dishes that is made by grinding beans to produce cold soy milk broth and adding noodles. Kongguksu is a healthy seasonal dish that many people look for especially during the summer when they have no appetite or want to cool down from the hot weather.

◇ Kongguksu: Korea's go-to nutrious summer food
Summer in Korea is usually very hot and humid. Historically, Koreans have referred to this period of hot, sultry days of summer as "Bok-nal," also known as "dog days" in English.

During this time, people tend to search for healthy meals that contain enough water and protein as a way to prevent loss of appetite and physical strength. That said, Kongguksu and Samgye-tang, which is ginseng chicken soup, are considered revitalizing summer foods in Korea.


▲ In this photo provided by Okcheon County shows farmers in the countryside taking care of beans in Korea. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Soy beans contain high levels of protein which help people strengthen their blood vessels and recover from fatigue. Korean ancestors have made various foods using beans such as soybean paste, tofu and soybean noodles. Since meat was considered precious, soybeans, which are a rich source of protein, have played an important role in supplying nutrients to Koreans.

While it is not clear exactly when Koreans began eating soybean noodles, considering that soybean noodles were mentioned in historical records between 18~19th centuries, it is estimated to be consumed from older periods. Additionally, it is said that wealthy noble families used pine nuts while ordinary families used regular beans to make Kongguksu.

◇ How is Kongguksu enjoyed in Korea?
In Korea, Kongguksu is one of the famous polarizing foods that people either like or dislike. Many say that it is a must to eat cold soybean noodles in the summer, while others can't understand why people enjoy it.

Although Kongguksu is a traditional Korean dish, it is sold at various restaurants that cook noodle dishes such as snack bars and Chinese restaurants. These restaurants usually sell Kongguksu as a seasonal menu only in the summer.

Restaurants that make proper Kongguksu typically boil, grind, and sieve soaked beans to produce the soup. However, some restaurants use the expedient method to make soup by mixing bean powder with water, which ultimately differs greatly in terms of the richness from well-made Kongguksu.

However, adding a little bit of Korean grain powder or "mi-su-ga-ru" to the Kongguksu helps highlight the savory taste. In addition, mixing peanuts, milk or soy milk are different ways to enrich the taste.

Soybean noodles are usually seasoned with salt, but in the Honam region near Gwangju, people enjoy adding sugar along with salt to make a sweet flavor.

▲ This photo taken by Kim Tae-shik shows Kongguksu with a slightly darker colored soybean soup. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Recently, Kongguksu that are made with black beans or braised soybeans instead of white beans are also gaining popularity. This type of Kongguksu is characterized by a gray or green color. Additionally, regular wheat noodles are sometimes substituted with buckwheat noodles.

◇ Create your own Kongguksu!
To make the Korean cold soybean noodles, washing the beans is the first step. Make sure to soak the beans for five to six hours before you peel and boil them to the point where the fishy smell disappears.
▲ This photo captured on Naver and originally provided by the Rural Development Administration cooking information shows the steps to making Korea's cold soybean noodle dish, Kongguksu. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Then, finely grind the beans into a blender or millstone and strain it through a sieve before cooling them. Boil the noodles in a separate pot and put them in the finished soybean soup. To top it off, garnish the noodles with cucumbers, boiled eggs, and fried sesame seeds.

Lastly, season the soup with salt or sugar and add ice to your liking. You can also eat the noodle with radish kimchi as a side dish.



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