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Konggooksoo: My Last (Chewable) Meal

I’ve suffered a lot in the past 24 hours.

My jaw has been aching, my gums have been bleeding, and the lower half of my face is so swollen, I look like a CHIPMUNK – one that’s stuffed a whole branchful of acorns into her mouth.

I got my wisdom teeth pulled out this weekend. All 4 of them.

It was not a pleasant experience. I’ll spare you guys the gory details (e.g. tooth shrapnel flying everywhere inside my mouth!), but I’m sure many of you guys feel my pain.

And yes, I am on painkillers – 3 different kinds actually (hey, they’re prescribed!). But that doesn’t change the fact that I CAN NOT EAT.

It’s been torture. But of course, my mom (being a mom) saw this coming, so she said she would make me whatever I wanted for lunch on Saturday.

WHATEVER I wanted. Do you know how many choices there are? Do you understand how much pressure that is? O_o

But regardless, I almost immediately chose…

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soybeans that have been soaked overnight

KONG GOOK SOO.

Also called 콩국수, chilled soybean noodle dish is one of my FAVORITE things to eat in the summer.

And you guys probably know too; I’ve blogged about it a bunch of times. Both homemade ones, and ones that I’ve ordered in restaurants.

So yes, you certainly could say that I’m addicted to konggooksoo.

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But how could you not be? It’s cool and refreshing and deliciously nutty-tasting, all at once.

So while I HAVE written about this particular dish before (and sorry if I’m being boring and repetitive…) I’ve decided up to up the ante and give you guys a full-blown, step-by-step post on how my mom makes this at home.

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boilin' beans

Think of it as me sharing the love… for soybean soup.

The first steps to making this soup include soaking the soybeans overnight and cooking them in boiling water for a good hour or so (you might wanna bite into one, and make sure it’s just tender enough). A word of warning though! Soybeans boil over REALLY easily, so you have to make sure to check up on them quite frequently if you don’t want a yellow, foamy mess all over your stove.

After the soybeans were cooked, my mom rinsed them in cold water while rubbing them between her fingers and her palms; this gets rid of the translucent skins on the outside of the soybeans.

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soybean skins! can you see them?

This step is optional, and if you’re planning on straining your soybean soup later, it doesn’t really matter (restaurants usually skip this step). But my mom likes that doing this makes for a smoother soup, even without having to strain it multiple times.

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And it gets rid of all that stuff.

Which leaves you with…

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Squeaky clean soybeans!

Now, if you want to be an amazing multi-tasker and save time in the kitchen, you should get started on your noodles.

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Just drop them in a pot of boiling water until they’re al dente. They should be cooked through, but still be chewy and not bloated. We usually eat whole wheat noodles (barley this time!), and they take a bit longer to cook than your average noodles.

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While the noodles are cooking away, my mom got started on making the soup.

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We use our bullet mixer-turned-into-a-blender for this, but if you have a regular ol’ blender that should work fine.

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My mom ladles some water into the blender; she says she uses about a 2:1 ration of water to soybeans.

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And to make it nuttier-tasting (although this is just my family’s preference), she adds a dash of sesame seeds too.

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Let it grind away!

A couple of vrrrms later, my mom strained the first few batches through a sieve.

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It takes a while for it drip down, which is why my mom sometimes pushes it through with a rubber spatula.

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Of course, this part is also optional; this particular bowl of soybean soup was for my grandparents, who like theirs silkier and smoother. It all depends on what you prefer.

My mom, my dad, and myself all like ours a bit coarser, so my mom set out a separate bowl where she didn’t strain the soup.

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And that’s it for the soup! I might have made it seem more complicated than it is, but really it’s just about soaking, boiling, and grinding the soybeans.

At this point, the noodles were finished cooking, so my mom poured them into a colander and rinsed them with cold water to cool them off.

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ooo, steamy

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Mmm… Noods…

Now that the noodles and the soup were finished, we got working on the other garnishes.

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Like cucumbers… A must when eating konggooksoo! They really go along with the whole “cool and refreshing” thing, ya know? My mom used a mandolin to julienne a cucumber into beautiful thin ribbons.

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And if it’s a Korean meal, you can’t forget the kimchi.

My mom took out not one,

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korean radish kimchi

Not two,

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sesame leaf kimchi

But THREE different types of kimchi for lunch.

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cucumber kimchi!

Holy moly, that’s a lot of spicy, crunchy deliciousness.

Once the table was all set up (noodles in bowl, cucumbers on top of noodles, bowls on the table, chopsticks and spoons next to bowls…) I called the rest of the family down so we could all start eating.

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My mom had dropped a few ice cubes into the bowl of soybean soup so it would get cold before she ladled it into our respective bowls.

And let me tell you, once that cold, luxuriously thick soup hits your noodles, you want to dig in right away.

BUT.

You have to season it first.

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You might’ve noticed that we did not add a pinch of salt during this entire konggooksoo-making process. That’s because it’s customary to leave the soup unseasoned and let each person add salt to suit his or her taste.

But once you’ve got your soup salted to your liking…..

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It’s time to chow down!

If you’ve never had konggooksoo before, this is what it tastes like:
Cold. Creamy. Unbelievably refreshing, with just a hint of roastiness and the flavor of the soybeans really shining through.

Perfectly complemented when alternated with a bite of kimchi after each slurp.

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is my ideal summer food. It seriously cannot get any better than this!

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Eating good food with my family… it was the perfect way to eat a last, decent meal before I underwent the painful procedure that’s reduced me to eating nothing but yogurt, jook, and juice (seriously, I’ve been subsisting on baby food).

Heeelp… Meee…!

I’m considering doing a “This is What I Ate When I Couldn’t Actually Eat Anything” post, but now that I think about it, it’s kind of depressing… We’ll see how that goes.

And since I can’t really chew anything yet, I dunno how many posts I’ll be putting up this week… I’ll try my best though, both blogging-wise and recovery-wise.

DARN CHIPMUNK CHEEKS, GO DOWN ALREADY!

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  1. Pingback: The Phenomenon of Semi-Korean Cuisine « you eatin' nice - July 19, 2011

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