I am working on a veganized version of yukaejang (육개장), which is a Korean spicy shredded beef soup with some pretty funky things in it like gosari or fernbrake (wild flowers)–an ingredient that is hard to find outside of a Korean grocery store in America.
In the meantime, while playing around with a soup base for yukaejang, I came up with this vegan (or vegetarian with egg) soup that has some yukaejang-ness to it. And with a bowl of rice and a side of kim chi, this will hit the spot for those Korean food vegans out there, I promise!
In normal yukaejang, the beef is boiled with onion, dried shitakes and garlic for an hour or so, until so tender that you can shred it with your fingers. The broth then works as the base for the soup. For nearly all my vegetarianized Korean soups, I start off with a base of: kombu (dried kelp), a vegetable bouillon cube, garlic cloves and soy sauce. This alone makes a very tasty soup broth to be used for ramen or dok guk or doenjang jigae or even a vegetable soup. Anything in addition to that only adds to the flavor.
If you have never tried cooking vegan or vegetarian food like this before, then I encourage you to expand your palate. Vegans! Asian grocery stores are your friend! Dried mushrooms and assorted dried sea weeds will make your life so much tastier!
Makes 2 large bowls of soup
For the soup base
3-4 cups water
1 piece of kombu (a bit larger than your palm)
1 white onion, quartered
6 dried shitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
2 spring onions
1 cube vegetable bouillon
For the chili and vegetable mix
1 bunch (or about 8 stalks) of garlic chives (available at Asian grocery stores)
6 spring onions
1 cup assorted mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs gochugaru, 고추가루 (Korean red chili powder)
3 tbs good quality soy sauce
1/4 tsp doenjang, 된장 (Korean fermented soybean paste)
1/4 tsp gochujang, 고추장 (Korean chili pepper paste)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup chopped Korean radish
1 cup mung bean sprouts
Shredded and fried tofu
1 egg (leave out if vegan)
rice and kim chi on the side
1) Make the soup base. Cut 2 spring onions in half and add them, the quartered onion, the dried shitakes, the kombu and 2 cloves garlic to the water in a pot. Bring to boil and then simmer for at least 20 minutes.
2) While the soup base is simmering, prepare the other vegetables. Wash the garlic chives and spring onion and chop into about 2-inch pieces. Wash the mung bean sprouts if using.
3) Prepare the chili paste. Mince the remaining 4 garlic cloves and add to a bowl. Add the gochugaru, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce and mix to a paste.
4) Add the chopped garlic chives, spring onion, mushrooms (and bean sprouts and radish if using) and mix. Set aside to marinate.
5) When the soup base is done after 20 or so minutes, remove all the vegetables from the broth, but save the shitake mushrooms. Thinly slice the shitake mushrooms and add to the chili paste and vegetables.
6) Now add the chili/vegetable mixture to the soup broth. Bring to boil and then simmmer another 15-20 minutes. Add in tofu if you like, as well as the gochujang and doenjang. Simmer another few minutes and taste. Should be quite tasty on its own but adjust seasoning if necessary.
Just before serving, you can break an egg into the soup and stir with chopsticks. The soup should be nice and spicy and will do well reheated as often as you like.
Serve with rice and kim chi.