Today I’m going to show you my version of guksu (국수), a simple and delicious noodle soup, and one of my all-time favorites and go-to regular meals. This version is spicy and savory. I always have kimchi and anchovies on hand, so it’s something that I can always make quickly for lunch, or when people suddenly come over.
Guksu is also a special-occasion dish because Koreans traditionally associate long thin noodles with longevity, so we often serve it at birthday parties, to wish for a long life, and at weddings, to wish for a long marriage.
I learned this version from a friend of mine in Korea who came from Gyeongsang province, at a time when I lived in Jeolla province. It’s different than the traditional way of making it, which is the version I show in my cookbook. That way uses anchovy or beef stock with hot pepper flakes and chopped green onions as a garnish. To make it look fancy, sauteed zucchini, marinated and cooked beef strips, and a pan-fried egg stips (gyeran-jidan) can be added over top.
This version uses a kimchi mixture for a spicy kick, and uses my special anchovy stock. The stock is something I’ve been developing for years. Dried anchovies, kelp, radish, and onion give plenty of flavor and umami and a bit of sweetness, which makes it a good base for many other dishes, too. And when the mix of kimchi, green onions, honey, toasted sesame oil, and hot pepper paste meets that savory stock, it creates a unique, unforgettable flavor.
I made 10 cups of anchovy stock in this recipe, enough for a couple bowls of guksu with leftovers you can freeze or keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Then you can add the stock to stews, soup, or just like me, use it to make a yummy steamed eggs in an earthenware pot (ttukbaegi-gyeranjjim).
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Just writing this, I feel like having a bowl of guksu!
Ingredients (for 2 servings)
- 10 ounces somyeon (thin wheat flour noodles)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, ground
- 1 sheet of gim (seaweed paper), toasted, crushed in a plastic bag to make seaweed flakes (gimgaru: 김가루)
- 2 poached eggs (optional)
For the anchovy stock (makes 10 cups’ worth):
- 14 cups of water
- 8 ounces Korean radish or daikon, sliced thinly
- 4 green onion roots
- 2 medium size onions (12 ounces), sliced
- 20 large dried anchovies, heads and guts are removed
- 1 ounce dried kelp
- 2½ teaspoons salt
For the spicy kimchi mix:
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 4 ounces of chopped fermented kimchi (about ½ to 2/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons hot pepper paste
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
The best way to make guksu is to prepare the stock and kimchi mixture first, and then make the noodles rapidly and put the guksu together just before serving. This way, the noodles don’t have time to sit and be soggy. They should be fresh and snappy when served, and the guksu should be served hot and quickly slurped.
Make the stock:
- Combine the water, radish, and onion, green onion roots, anchovies, and kelp in a large saucepan, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 30 minutes.
- Turn down the heat to low and boil another 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and strain. You will get about 10 cups of stock. Stir in the salt.
Make the spicy kimchi mix:
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Cook the noodles:
- Bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add the noodles and stir them with a wooden spoon so that they don’t stick together.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until they start boiling over.
- Open, lower the heat to low, and stir. Cook another minute until the noodles are nicely cooked. Take a sample: it should be chewy but there shouldn’t be anything hard in it as you chew.
- Strain and rinse the noodles in cold water a couple of times. Strain them. Divide the noodles into 2 portions and put each portion into a serving bowl or pot.
- I like to warm the noodles up first, because they’ve been rinsed in cold water and they will cool down the soup. Use a strainer and a ladle to put a bit of bubbling hot stock over the noodles, and then drain it back out into the stockpot so it can be heated again. Do this a couple of times until the noodles are heated up.
- Add 2 or 2½ cups of the hot stock to the noodles. Place the kimchi mixture, ground sesame seeds, and gimgaru (crushed seaweed flakes) in the center of the noodle soup.
- Add a poached egg on top if you made one.
- Serve hot and eat immediately.