Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jjam-bong: udon, Korean style (매운우동)

Long before people in Korea and Japan started calling themselves Korean and Japanese, people in Nagasaki and Pusan knew that culturally they had more in common with each other than with their respective political capitals in Edo (Tokyo) and Seoul. One of the things they shared was this dish, jjambong or champon. It is served as soup that comes in a multitude of flavours and accompanying goodies.

I fix it the Korean way. It takes exactly 15 minutes and costs under 1 quid to fix a flavourful, healthy and delicious lunch. This is how it goes.
  1. Slice thinly a couple of pre-soaked shiitake. I normally keep some soaked shiitake in the fridge so that I always have it handy. Feel free to follow my suit.
  2. Next thing is to soak black kikurage, white kikurage and golden needles 20 g each in water for at least 20 minutes. I f you can't get hold of those, just skip this step.
  3. Then peel and slice a few cloves of garlic.
  4. Heat a frying pan, add 1 tbsp odourless vegetable oil. Sprinkle some black and white sesame (third a teaspoonful each), wait until it starts sizzling.
  5. Fry the garlic in the pan until fragrant (light yellow in colour), then add 3 very finely sliced medium onions. When those are nice and fragrant too, add the sliced shiitake. Fry until the mushrooms are fragrant too.
  6. In the meantime, bring to boil exactly how much water you need for your udon. I use the bowl you can see on the picture as the measure.
  7. When the water boils, add one pack of udon. Bring to boil again, reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  8. Tip the frying pan into the sauce pan and add the kikurage, golden needles, and half a handful of whatever leafy vegetables you have: spinach, pakchoi, kangkong, Chinese broccoli. Dissolve 1 tbsp gochujang in the broth. You will need to find this delicious chilli paste as it is defines the taste of the whole dish.
  9. Let boil for a minute or so. Mind that the udon does not get overdone, it should be cooked just one notch beyond al dente.
  10. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped spring onions.
This spicy dish, also known as jjam-bong (짬뽕) if cooked with thinner noodles, when consumed regularly is known to boost your sexual drive.

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