Everyone who knows me knows that I love Korean food. Especially when it comes to their stews *drools* ugh delish.
I currently work at a free daily newspaper and our editorial team sometimes receive books to review and once they are done the books are up for grabs for the rest of the office. There was a Korean cookbook that stood out to me because it was written like a comic and who doesn’t love a comic?! Cook Korean! is a Korean cookbook in graphic novel format by Robin Ha. The artwork is beautiful and the Kimchi Jigae that I made one night on a whim based on her recipe was very simple to follow because the text instructions were simple with visuals to fill in the missing pieces. If you are ever interested in cooking Korean food, I would recommend this (but to be fair, i’ve only made two things from the book).
Not going to post the recipe here cause you should just get the book! 🙂
I have a friend of almost 20 years who loves Korean culture, the food, the pretty boys, and especially the dramas- I’ll call her Unnie for this blog. So Unnie became the obvious choice when it came to trying out a recipe in this book with me. She debated between the Boiled Pork Belly wrap and the Soondubu. We ended up going with the Soondubu because we already had most of the ingredients and we (at least me) was trying to save some dough…
It was our first time trying to make Soondubu the authentic way- with Anchovies!! Ugh…not a big fan of fishy things. I was pretty surprised when I first found out that Soondubu had anchovies cause I couldn’t taste anything fishy whenever I had it. Unnie and I actually debated on whether or not we wanted to use anchovies since we’ve never had to behead or remove fish guts (even if it is a dried fish and not a live fish). We were both very hesitant but I figured if we want to this correctly and you know, if we do cook more in the future this will probably be one of the things we’ll have to learn. I was pretty excited to start beheading and removing fish guts after our conversation… but it was not meant to be… Finding dried anchovies is hard in a Stop & Shop! I did go to an Asian supermarket beforehand but still couldn’t find it-probably should have prepared earlier and gone to a H-Mart…
Our saving grace though was Anchovy paste in the Italian section of Stop & Shop. I googled the difference between paste and actually dried anchovies and basically what I learned was that the paste has a fishier taste. The point of Dried Anchovies also gives the broth a umani flavor as opposed to a fishy favor from the paste. I could’ve used Japanese Dashi or another type of dried seafood as a replacement but couldn’t find those either! We decided to just use the paste and some instant miso soup as a fail safe (did I use that phase correctly..?)
We also decided to omit the seafood components of the recipe (the clams and the seafood mix) since it isn’t necessary if we just want to make pork Soondubu. We had all the other ingredients and ended up buying only the ingredients below:
We had to make the anchovy broth base first and it was basically just squirting two teaspoons of the paste into hot water. It smelled soo fishy and I just hated the fish smell, it made me gag. Unnie was so brave, she actually tasted it!
Once we cooked everything else and pour the broth in, the fishy smell disappeared almost immediately! I was super impressed because although it’s not 100% authentic (no dried anchovies), it still tasted exactly like the ones you would get at BCD Tofu House or any other restaurants that specializes in these types of stews.
Unnie made me take the photo up high like this and I have to admit- it turned out really nice. We ended up not being able to finish all the stew cause we made too much but her mother finished it for us cause she really liked it! That means it was 100% success!! 🙂
One last question: why is this post called Soondubu Mask day? What does Masks have to do with anything? Nothing really, Unnie and I had a mini spa day after we ate and enjoyed a relaxing clay mask! I love it.