Bean sprouts are one of the most popular everyday meal ingredients in Korea.
The most popular way of using it is making a soup. This is because bean sprouts have a lot of aspartic acid, which can be a great way to heal your hangover (and Koreans like to drink). There’s a whole category of Korean food called “haejang,” or hangover recovery food.
Kongnamul guk is easy and quick to make. My mom used to use half of the bean sprouts she blanched for making muchim (salad) and the other half plus the blanching water for soup. Moms are clever like that.
Here is a very simple and clean morning soup to wake you up, whether it’s after a night of drinking or if you just need a cleansing energy boost.
200g bean sprouts
1 clove garlic, sliced
about 10cm of daepah (large green onion), sliced diagnally (white part only)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp joseon ganjang
8–10 dried anchovies
1 piece dashima, 4×6 cm
1. Rinse bean sprouts in cold running water.
2. Add dashima and dried anchovies to 800ml of cold water, and bring it to simmer. Keep simmering for about 15–20 minutes.
3. Once the anchovy stock is ready, bring it to high heat and add bean sprouts and garlic.
4. Cover and boil on medium-high heat. Cook for 5~7 more minutes.
5. After boiling on high for 5~7 minutes, open the lid to smell.* If you smell the fully cooked smell,** then take off the lid and season with salt and joseon ganjang to taste.
6. Add sliced daepah and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off and serve with rice and banchan.
Kongnamul guk can be served cold in the summer and hot in the winter depending on your preferences. Keep leftover soup in the fridge for up to three days.
*Be careful not to open the lid before it’s fully cooked. The trick with bean sprouts is: If you open the lid once, you have to leave the lid off. If you haven’t opened the lid, leave the lid on. It’s all or nothing with bean sprouts.
**We know it’s hard to explain—it’s when the smell transforms from the raw bean smell to a nuttier, cooked smell. Another way to tell is when the stems become slightly transparent.