Thursday, November 24, 2011

Korean Spinach and Bean Sprout Soup (시금치콩나물국): Just momma

Growing up, I was an extremely late bloomer.  I started high school with only the barest knowledge of boys, relationships and how to be cool, and really spent much of high school without a clue.  I was never the girl that guys noticed and instead always ended up being everyone's friend.  Inevitably my nickname was "momma" or "mom" and that was how people viewed me - as the mother hen and not the hot chick.  Looking back, I know that growing up like that really protected me from lots of potential ugliness and pain.

And even if I was never the girl that guys fell for in school, Husband definitely makes up for it.  His face still lights up when he sees me and to him I am his prettiest girl. (Okay - truthfully, I know that Daughter #1 is the apple of his eye, but for the sake of argument go with it.)  Husband sees me as pretty darn fantastic (and I do him) and as long as the person I'm with sees me that way, what else do I need?

But a couple of weeks ago, after a day that we celebrated Brother #2's wedding in Los Angeles, I drove home in my car.  On this day I put more effort into my appearance than normal, makeup, blow-dried hair and high heels.  While waiting at the stop light, I took a quick glance in the mirror and thought that I looked pretty good.  Just at that moment, a car pulled along side me and the driver gesticulated something which I took to be an obscene gesture.   He kept on signaling something, which I could see out of the side of my eyes, and he was clearly trying to make eye contact with me.  The following series of thoughts went through my head.  Yeah right.  I'm not going to pay attention to you.  I'm too good for you.  I know I look good, but you're not for me.  You can't have me.  You can't even catch my eye.

The signal turned green and as we were crossing the intersection, it suddenly became clear why he had been signalling me all along.  He wanted to cut in front of me so that he could go straight instead of turning right, which he was forced to in his lane.  As I slowly moved across the intersection, he waved at me and cut right in front of me.  It wasn't me he was after, but rather my position in a lane.  In a split second, my face turned beet red, and alone in the car, I discovered, that yes, it is possible to die of embarrassment all by yourself.

A brief moment of feeling like the hot momma very quickly turned to being just momma.  I'm back right where I belong.

This Korean soup is very much like me.  It's homey, comforting, "momma" like, slightly countrified, but oh so good.  And I'm happy to be like this soup because making it is pretty darn simple and straightforward and the results are really wonderful.  (Like me!)  The best thing about this soup is that it won't embarrass itself and it won't embarrass you either. It is best served with a side of Korean radish kimchi 깍두기 and steaming hot rice.

Cooking tip: Whenever I make Korean oxtail soup, I always make sure I freeze a couple of containers worth of soup so that I can easily flip this soup out.
Korean Spinach and Bean Sprout Soup (시금치콩나물국)
Serves 6

2 bunches of spinach washed well, and trimmed into shorter lengths
1 package of bean sprouts, stems removed (if you want to)
6 cups of beef broth (make from this recipe) OR oxtail soup broth (anchovy broth also works well here)
6 tablespoons Korean soy bean paste (dwenjang 된장)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 green chili (jalapeno, serrano, or Korean pepper) sliced - OPTIONAL

First blanch spinach. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Submerge spinach for 10 seconds and then remove from water, and place in a colander, allowing it to cool and drain. When cool enough to handle, grab small handfuls of the spinach and squeeze out the water.

In a large pot, heat the broth over medium high heat. Add soybean paste by placing it in a small strainer and dipping the strainer into the hot broth. Using the hot broth, extract the soybean flavor, but leave behind the whole beans and larger chunks. This prevents extra whole beans from entering the soup and makes for a more refined soup.

Add blanched spinach, bean sprouts and garlic. Cover soup and allow soup to simmer, for about 15 minutes or until the bean sprouts are tender and cooked.

Printable recipe


Anonymous said...

I loved this post because I can totally identify with this role and the incident. At most you were in a car thus a real bubble to sort yourself out again. Embarrassing or not at least we can never claim that our lives are boring. Sharing the things are a part of what makes us all human is what makes you and your blog all the more gorgeous!
Hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving!

Michelle said...

Yum~ looks like a great soup to have on hand for the winter months. Love that it's simple and hearty at the same time :)

briarthorn said...

Thanks for sharing your story--I can really relate! I don't have Korean groceries easily available to me and also prefer to make everything from scratch if possible, so is there anything I could use or make to substitute instead of the soy bean paste?


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