Friday, April 4, 2014

Korean Spicy Bean Sprout Soup

Korean Spicy Bean Sprout Soup
Though I have cooked and eaten many Korean soups. I have never eaten or attempted to make Bean Sprout Soup.  To be honest, it just looked boring.  How can this soup be tasty when all it has are bean sprouts?  “Where’s the Beef”?  So, you’re probably wondering why I decide to make it.

Confession time… I am a Korean Drama addict.  Yes, I am coming clean and fessing up. I spend more time than I would like to admit, pleasurably reading subtitles.  I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams that this would have happen to me.  But, it did.  I’m hooked and there is no turning back. Ok, I said it.  The cat is out of the bag. There are no more secrets here…

I mention this because in almost every drama that I watch; when the family sits together for breakfast there is always a bowl of soup, rice and an abundance of side dishes (banchan).  This made me curious as to what kind of soup they were eating. What I discovered is that more times than not, it was the all too boring bean sprout soup.  Once again I had to ask myself; What's the big deal?  It was time to stop asking and check it out for myself and I'm glad I did.  

To my surprise, this simple and easy soup was incredibly satisfying.  I couldn’t believe that with so few ingredients and literally no effort, I could end up with such a well-balanced and flavorful soup. The broth had a fresh clean flavor that was light yet full, with just enough spiciness to give it a kick. The bean sprouts remained crunchy and tender even though they were boiled, then simmered. I can honestly say that the addition of meat would not have made it any better.

If you love Korean food and are not familiar with Maangchi - you are missing out on one of the greatest gifts when it comes to learning how to cook Korean.  She is fun, funny and full of life.  Her videos are short and packed with useful information.  Maangchi demystifies the art of Korean Cooking so that we can all make delicious Korean meals in our home kitchens.  This recipe is one of Maangchi’s family recipes that was passed down to her from her Aunt.  It is incredibly simple to make and taste so comforting. Maangchi calls this everyday soup and I agree. I truly could eat this soup every day, with rice and banchan of course.

Bean Sprouts???
The first question that I had was. Are all bean sprouts created equal?  I thought they were until I started doing my homework for this post.  Apparently there is a difference.  I grew up with mung bean sprouts.  This recipe calls for soy bean sprouts.

Mung Bean sprouts are the ones that you can find in just about any grocery store.  They have a mild flavor, can be eaten raw and cook quickly.

Soy Bean sprouts are not as readily available and look like a larger version of the mung bean sprout. They have a slightly stronger flavor and are not good raw and need to be blanched before eating. It is also recommended that you pinch off the stringy tails from each sprout because they will be tough and stringy to eat.

***Though soy bean sprouts would be more traditional. For all practical reasons, 
I made my soup with mung bean sprouts due to its availability.

Dried Anchovies???
These unattractive little guys can be found in the refrigeration section of your Asian grocery store. You need to clean them by removing their heads and intestines. If you skip this step, your soup will be bitter. They are very brittle, but easy to clean and even thou they look like they would, they don’t make the soup taste fishy.

Korean Spicy Bean Sprout Soup
makes 2-3 servings

1 ¼         pound   bean sprouts
½             med       onion, sliced
2              cloves   garlic, minced
1 ½         tsp.        kosher salt
2              tsp.        soy sauce
1 ½         tsp.        Korean hot pepper flakes
5 ½         cups       water
8              large      dried anchovies, intestines removed
2              tsp.        sesame oil
2              sprigs    green onion, chopped

Rinse and drain bean sprouts in cold tap water.
Clean anchovies and place them in an enclosed strainer, so they will be easy to remove from the soup later.
Place the bean sprouts, onion, garlic, salt, soy sauce, pepper flakes, cleaned anchovies and water into a pot.
Put the lid on the pot and cook over high heat for 15 min.
Remove the lid and stir. Lower heat to a simmer and put the lid back; cook for another 20 minutes.
When the soup is done cooking; remove it from the heat; discard the anchovies and add the sesame oil and green onions.
Enjoy with a bowl of rice and banchan.


  1. Okay, you've sold us, we'll go to Korea! Soup looks delicious and that enclosed strainer is really cool... also a tip from the Korean dramas? :)

    1. I wish I could join you! Actually I learned about the strainer from Maangchi :)