seoul searching no. 8 - yook gae jahng
after a long night of hard drinking, i always need a "chaser," something to eat at 2, 3, 4 am, that i always say is going to keep me from being too hung over when i get up in the (late) morning. there are many other hangover prevention measures out there. but somehow, over many drunken iterations, it got twisted: drink water; no, drink gatorade for electrolytes; no, electrolytes are salt, so eat something salty. and this is how i ended up reasoning with myself that grease and salt "cuts through the alcohol." it's a great excuse to get french fries or nachos at naughty hours.
but, drive-through windows and benito's only really "do" because negotiating wilshire blvd. all the way to koreatown is pretty risky by the time i'm in need of a chaser. what i really want, what really does prevent that hangover, is a korean soup. the broth rehydrates, the spice clears the head, and the salt wipes that liquor coating from the tongue. everyone has their favorites: suh-lung-tahng, gom-tahng, gal-bee tahng, dduk mahn-doo gook. my favorite is a super spicy beef and green onion soup, yook gae jahng.
just looking at yook gae jahng makes my mouth and eyes water - it's spicy. the beef broth a deep reddish brown from ko-choo-kah-roo (korean chili powder). nowadays, i've seen recipes with jalapenos and other hot peppers to increase the heat. it makes me sweat. it numbs my tongue and throat. when it's so hot it hurts so good, i know i've got the stuff to sober me up since tuesday.
every restaurant has a version of it, and every korean cookbook has a recipe for yook gae jahng, but nothing comes out quite like mom's. her recipe is hard to document, since it's done by taste, as are all korean foods. she makes an enormous pot of it, then freezes it single-serving size containers. all i have to do is let it defrost in the fridge, then heat it up on the stove top. how cool is a mom who actually gives you hangover cures?
yook gae jahng
12 oz. - 1 lb. beef brisket
beef bones for stock
8 - 10 c. water
5 - 6 green onions
1 cup cooked dahng-myun (transparent noodles)
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 3 tbsp. koh-choo-jahng (red pepper paste)
1 - 2 tbsp. koh-choo-kah-roo (red pepper pwder)
1 - 2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 - 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1. wash meat and soup bones. place in large pot with water and bring to boil. turn down heat and simmer ~2 hours, skimming foam and fat, until beef is tender.
2. remove meat from broth, cool, then cut and shred meat into ~3 in. long stips
3. wash and cut green onions into 3 in. long pieces and
4. mix together garlic, hot pepper paste, chili pepper powder, salt, black pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, and saesame seeds into paste.
5. combine paste with shredded beef and return to broth with green onion pieces
6. bring broth with beef, green onions, and noodles back to boil, then serve hot.
adding a big scoop of rice into the soup bowl when serving makes it a perfect regular meal, too.