Janchi guksu is a comfort food for most Koreans. It’s enjoyed more as an in between meal or as a snack. That might be why this noodle soup is popular among the street vendors. You might have also seen in Korean dramas where the actors slurp this soup as a late night snack with soju. LOL. Flavorwise, the hot broth is typically clear, light and subtle and goes nicely with somyeon (smooth thin noodles). You can decide on your slurping speed, since the noodles tend to digest easily.
KOreans and noodles…
From what I have gathered from researching, wheat in general was a very precious ingredient in Korea for quite some time. It was very costly and labor intensive to make wheat noodles, making them very valuable. It makes perfect sense that this valuable noodle was served to the guests on special occasions, such as 100th day, 1st birthday, wedding, and 60th birthday. This custom of sharing of noodles is still enjoyed today amongst the Koreans while celebrating good health, long life and prosperity.
what is janchi guksu?
The literal translation is janchi = banquet/feast and guksu = noodles. Janchi Guksu is a simple noodle soup made with either a meat or a seafood broth and vegetables . It is typically served with thin white noodles like somyeon. The toppings and sauce can vary.
how do you make the broth?
The broth plays a big role in Janchi guksu’s flavor. Since somyeon noodles are more on the bland side (that’s the beauty of it), it quickly absorbs the flavor of any added broth or sauce. For my Janchi guksu, I use the dried anchovy (the biggest size), kelp, and bonito flakes as the first broth base. If you can find these disposable paper pouches, see picture below, they work great for boiling aromatics. The second broth base ingredients are the vegetables: shiitake mushroom, garlic and scallions. The third part of the broth is the seasoning. To prevent soup from having a strong fishy scent, leaving the pot lid open is recommended.
When should i start boiling the noodles?
The somyeon takes about 6-7 minutes to cook, so you want to pace yourself. At the same time, you don’t want to boil it too soon and have the noodles get stuck together while it waits for the broth. If you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. complete the broth making process and then boil the noodles afterward.
how to handle somyeon noodles:
Somyeon noodles are quite delicate. They are easily breakable. Be gentle as you take them out of the package and place them into the pot. They don’t expand like spaghetti noodles, so be mindful of the serving size per bag. You also want to stir gently as the noodle cooks, and neither salt nor oil is necessary. Gently rinse them in cold water and set aside to drain.
what are some topping options?
There are many options for toppings when it comes to Janchi guksu. You can go as simple as 1-2 toppings, or as much as 10 toppings!! The typical toppings are fried eggs and zucchini. Here is a list of other options you can try:
- crab meat
- roasted seaweed
is there a special sauce for janchi guksu?
The sauce is optional but a lot of Koreans enjoy the extra flavor the sauce brings. The sauce is typically a soy sauce base and can range from mild sweet to hot spicy. I will have to blog about this another day…. Again, it’s preference. I feed my kids Janchi Guksu without the sauce, to reduce sodium consumption. LOL.
Korean Banquet Noodle Soup, Janchi Guksu
- 10 cup water
- ¼ cup bonito flake
- 4 whole anchovy large size, 3" long
- 1 sheet kelp 4"x6"
- 2 whole shiitake mushroom dry
- 3 clove garlic
- 2 green onion 1 for soup base, 1 chopped for garnish
- 3 tbsp guk ganjang (soup soy sauce)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp sake
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- 1 egg large
- 10 oz somyeon noodles
- Bring water to boil in a big pot. Add anchovies, kelp and fish flakes into the pouch and drop into the pot. Once the water boils, reduce to medium heat and boil for 20min with open lid.
- Separate the eggs; the yolk from the white. Wisk and pan fry each color separately in low heat, resembling a thin pancake. Once cooled, julienne. Set aside for later.
- Take out the pouch and add shiitaki mushroom, garlic and 1 whole spring onion. boil for 10min.
- Take out the vegetables. Add soy sauce, salt, sake and pepper to taste.
- Cook somyeon noodles according to the package, about 3min. Rinse in cold water and drain.
- Add the desired amount of somyeon into a wide soup bowl. Add egg toppings and pour the hot broth into the bowl.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped spring onion.
- Serve with favorite sauce and pickled side dishes.