Koreans think of naengi as the first ingredient to come into season in the spring, and naengi-guk (냉이국, shepherd’s purse soup) is one of the most common ways to eat it. It has an unmistakable fragrance, and you get so much of that fresh naengi smell in the steam rising from the broth. Dallae (달래, Korean wild chive) is also a great addition to this soup.
8–10 dried anchovies (depending on the size)
1 3x4cm piece of dashima (dried kelp)
20g barley shoots, about one handful (optional)
200g bajirak (littleneck clam, about 20 or so total)
1 clove garlic, sliced
3 tbsp doenjang
½ bundle dallae (mountain chive)
to prepare the ingredients:
Dashima: If you notice a white powder on the surface of the kelp, you can wipe it down 2 or 3 times with a damp paper towel. No need to worry, it’s just traces of salt, but it doesn’t hurt to clean it up just in case there are any impurities. Don’t wash it in running water, which can create a slimy texture.
Naengi: Washing naengi thoroughly is a really important step in preparing this little herb—it can be quite dirty! Soak the shoots in water for at least 20–30 minutes to let the dirt sink down, then rinse with running cold water. Get rid of any wilted yellow leaves
or remaining dirt (be sure to check the base of the roots).
Bajirak: Place in a large bowl and wash 2–3 times in cold running water while rubbing vigorously (be sure to wear a rubber kitchen glove).
1. Place a small pot on the stove, add water, anchovies and dried kelp, and bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
2. Place another small pot with a good amount of water, bring it to a boil, and quickly blanch your cleaned naengi for about 10–20 seconds. The purpose of this blanching procedure is to get rid of any remaining dirt and to make sure your soup broth is clear.
3. Rinse the blanched naengi under cold running water one more time and squeeze out any extra moisture. Cut the naengi into bite-sized pieces.
4. After the stock has simmered, remove the anchovies and dashima.
5. Using a small sieve at the surface of your stock, press the doenjang lightly so that it loosens and dissolves. Not all the doenjang has to pass through the sieve; this step will just help break up the paste and evenly distribute the flavors.
6. Once the doenjang is dissolved thoroughly, add your chopped naengi, garlic, bajirak (littleneck clams) and barley shoots.
7. Once the soup begins to boil, and the clams begins to open up, chop the dallae roughly and sprinkle into the soup. Immediately turn off the heat so that the dallae does not overcook and lose its aroma.
8. Serve hot with rice. Serves four.