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Monday, November 1, 2010

Su Jae Bee - Korean Style Mee Hoon Kueh

Su Jae Bee 6
Su Jae Bee 4
Su Jae Bee 1

I know many envy me when they hear that I get to travel to Korea for business. My response is usually more lukewarm. I am not a star struck fan of Korean Dramas - I have probably only watched one Korean drama over the last 2 years. The smooth faced actors and actresses are all perfectly beautiful but I have trouble differentiating them.  I also have to admit that I am not crazy over kimchi - apart from the spicy pickled cabbage, all other kimchi are either too cold, too sour or too bland for my liking. I do gush over the latest paper thin LED panels from LG and Samsung and while these are usually the reasons for my work-related visits to Korea, they have little relevance when I wander around Seoul for leisure.

What I do get out of every Korean trip are humbling experiences and a mega dose of appreciation for what we have here at home.

I am not sure how many of us out there still remember that under all that shiny veneer, South Korea is a country that has only recently just walked out of poverty. Through sheer determination and will, they have propelled the nation to become a formidable player in just about every market they participate in. When the Korean war ended in the 1950s and possibly until the early 1970's, South Korea was actually poorer than their North Korean counter parts.

My colleague who is of the same age as I am, remembers that when he was in elementary school in the early 1980s, fruits like bananas, pineapples and oranges were luxury items. My colleague had told me how he and his friends would look on with envy when a kid from a rich family bring a banana to school for snack.  I had my first Mac Donalds in Singapore when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My Korean colleague could not afford to eat Mac Donalds until he was 20.  Another colleague recalled how he would rummage through garbage bins at the American Naval base for discarded copies of Playboy magazines so that he could sell them off in the black market for pocket money. I am in awe because these stories were typically what we would hear from our parents' or grandparents' generation - when these experiences come from your own peers,they have a strangely sobering effect. When one couples these with the country's amazing rate of growth and stellar achievement in such a short time, one cannot help but be immensely humbled.

South Korea will continue to forge ahead to refine their craft but if you look under the veneer that is presented to the world now, you will immediately see elements of their more humble beginnings. They are every where. Food experience is one of the most obvious. I recalled how when I had my first Bibimpap (stone bowl rice) in Korea, I had felt grossly let down and unsatisfied. The Bibimpap I used to have outside Korea was always fulfilling with colourful vegetables and generous portion of beef. For that first Bibimpap in Korea,I recalled turning over the contents in my bowl to see if the beef was hidden any where under the vegetables... there was probably about a teaspoon of minced meat in that bowl... The famous Jajangmyon (soy paste noodle) , served with a thick soy paste sauce of onions,carrots and potatoes comes in strangely huge portion in Korea, with enough noodles to feed a hungry labourer. My colleague told me Koreans will generally finish eating these in 10 seconds and return back to work again. The famous Korean barbeque is still considered a luxury for most Koreans and most would only limit themselves to pork barbeque. The beef barbeque is reserved for the most important guests. I also recall how I had to get used to the fact that most normal restuarants only serve one specialty dish. Do not expect to see a menu with a selection of meat, seafood, dessert etc. If you have problem with any particular type of food, make sure you voice out otherwise, you will have nothing else to eat at that restaurant. I was once taken to a restuarant that only served beef tripe soup. I ended up nibbling on kimchi for that lunch.

Su Jae Bee 2
During my trip there last week, my colleague took me to a very popular restuarant that sells Su Jae Bee - for all I can tell, this is just like our Mee Hoon Kueh - pinched flour dough cooked in a rich flavourful anchovy broth. A restaurant with a humble setting, this serves only Su Jae Bee and some starchy potato pancake. The handful of dishes offered were written on the wall,complete with price indication. On a cold chilly night, this was the perfect comfort food. I was inspired upon my first sip of the broth. I knew I could replicate this quite reasonably. The flour dough which was tender, thin and smooth was the thing that intimidated me. As I watched the cooks work effortlesly at stretching and pinching the dough behind the kitchen counter, I knew this is no easy feat. They have mastered the dough so well, this has to be the key differentiating factor that sets them apart. I had eaten similar Mee Hoon Kueh before in Singapore but I had never quite liked them because these were thicker and tougher than the Su Jae Bee I had at this restuarant. There is very little else in the bowl other than pieces of flour, a few forlorn pieces of dried shrimps, shredded cabbage and potatoes. Another humble, unpretentious high carb, energy giving dish, which my colleague told me became popular when the Korean war ended and the Americans came in bearing gifts in the form of sacks of wheat flour.

The experience had been so memorable that this became the first dish I wanted to cook when I touched down in Singapore. Forget about DaChangJin (大常今)... nobody eats like that in Korea. Everyday Korean food is conservative, humble, honest and comforting. I  prepared the broth with the large anchovies and dried clams I bought in Korea. I knew I would never be able to replicate the texture of the flour dough on my own. With the aid of my pasta maker, I then tried to get this as thin as I could ( a little thicker than pasta noodles) before cutting them up into pieces. Suprisingly, it turned out really good. My Su Jae Bee is not as spectacular as the one I ate in Korea but is good enough for me to be proud of myself :)... I had another 5 minutes genius moment...:)

Su Jae Bee (250)-100
Recipe :

Soup Base
1 liter          Water
50g             Dried anchovies, washed.
30g             Dried clams,washed.
20g             Dried scallops.

2                Potates, peeled and diced
1                Stem of Kailan, sliced. (I had wanted to use Zucchini but could not find it at the supermarket)
1/2             Stem of leek, thinly sliced.

250g          Plain flour
1tbsp         Corn flour
Salt            Pinch
1/2             Egg
1/2 - 1cup  Water

Method :
1. Place flour and corn flour in a mixing bowl. Form a well in the center of the bowl and add rest of ingredients in the center of the bowl (do not add all water at one time. Adjust accordingly during kneading).
Mix to form a dough. Knead dough on the lightly floured board until smooth.

2. Place dough in a zip lock bag and refrigerate over night.
3. Lightly flour dough ( divide dough into 2-3 manageable portions) and roll out a few times using a pasta maker at setting (1).  Finally, roll out dough at setting (5). Using a knife. cut dough sheets into small pieces lightly flour dough pieces on a tray to prevent them from sticking to each other. Cover tray with a wet towel to prevent them from drying out.

Note : step 3 should be done when soup is ready.

Soup :
1. Boil Anchovies, dried clams and scallops in water over medium heat for about an hour.Season with a dash of pepper and salt.
2. Strain away solids and retain the clear broth.
3. Heat clear broth to boiling. Add more dried clams, potatoes, Kailan stem and cook until potatoes are slightly soft.
4. Continue to boil the broth, add in dough pieces and continue to cook until the dough pieces are cooked. Add sliced leek. Simmer for 3 minutes.
5. Dish out into bowl. Add a drizzle of sesame oil, a generous dash of black peper (important) , a little seaweed and eat while hot.


Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

when i see your post title with Korean Mee Hoon Kueh, I immediate hop over to check out what it is. My family love mee hoon kueh, we just had it yesterday actually..I must try this new way of mee hoon kueh, sound really good! Thanks for sharing.

grub said...

thanks for sharing such a great insight! as for me i am also no fan of Korean dramas and kimchi. hope you are enjoying your business trip :)

WendyinKK said...

What you wrote really gave me new insight. I didn't know what happened to Korea just 30 years back then.
It's somehow really true, that really traditional dishes are simple fare. Just like nasi lemak, the authentic ones are simple, not with fried chicken.

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Reading through your post sure brought me back to the reality of Korea's situation. I am a sucker for Kdrama and my hubby loves kimchi, lol! But it's purely for entertainment. :))) Love your Korea style Mee Hoon Kueh, haven't seen anything like this before. Thanks for sharing yet another new and interesting dish Shirley. ;)

Kitchen Corner said...

I love Mee Hoon Kueh! But haven't try out Korean version. You've reminded and inspired me to make it some of these days. May be using my pasta machine to roll out the dough would be easier. Thanks for sharing!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Grace, that is exactly what I did. I used my pasta maker and the dough was really smooth and had a great texture.

pigpigscorner said...

Love Korean food! I just posted a Korean recipe too. This reminds me of the Chinese version, yum!

Zurin said...

Thats an interesting insight into Korea. And the noodles I will definitely try one day. It looks so good. :)

Jo said...

Hi Shirley, looks like you are on a roll with Korean recipes. Is this inspiration from your recent trip? Mee hoon kueh Korean style .. now this is really something.

Anonymous said...

Delicious looking! Love the little black pot-like serving bowl. Very rustic.

Noob Cook said...

I've not been to S Korea neither am I familiar with their cuisine but I realised some of their dishes are quite similar to ours (like their jap chye too). Your version looks very hearty :)

mr. pineapple man said...

i think ive tried this when i visited korea last time~ good good!

Maria @ Scandi Foodie said...

That's really interesting! This dish sounds delicious and warming :-)

Karen from Globetrotter Diaries said...

YUM YUM-- that looks incredibly good!!! perfect for a cold day!

tigerfish said...

I have never been to Korea except the airport! Hahahha! But I love a good Korean spicy tofu stew for the cold chilly nights. I am never really a fan of mee hoon kueh so I am not sure if I will order a Korean version even when I see it on the menu. But the broth - I like it!

Bakericious said...

I had never try this b4 in Korea, looks delicious.

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

This looks so nourishing and warming. I'm feeling a bit under the weather and would love a steaming bowl of this!

La Table De Nana said...

I find your photos just outstanding..Truly..and the stories.. so interesting..I learn from you:)

Clare @ Mrs Multitasker said...

Shirley you are genius all the time! And your pictures have been getting more and more beautiful! I also really enjoyed the sensitive heartfelt prose. Fantastic post!

Mary @Delightful Bitefuls said...

Beautiful pictures! This sounds delicious!

Mary xo
Delightful Bitefuls

thecoffeesnob said...

I, too, don't have much appreciation for Korean drama but I can never quite get enough of Korean food!

This sounds really tasty and absolutely perfect for the rainy days we've been having here!

Trissa said...

I honestly don't know too much about Korean food - except the really popular ones so thanks for sharing this one. Your essays on Korea and your other travels are always an eye opener Shirley! Have you downloaded Zinio yet by the way?

penny aka jeroxie said...

I like mee hoon keuh! And the soup base is awesome. Have to try that soup base next time.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I haven't seen this dish before but it does sound great for a high carb chilly evening! :D

beyondkimchee said...

I am glad that you had good time in Korea. Soojaebee is very humbling dish to most Koreans. It must accompany with Kimchee as a side. Some like to add spicy chilly sauce on top. Very comforting food in cold weather. I better make some soon.
Thanks for sharing.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@beyondkimchee : you are absolutely right. I ate with Kimchee and they have a bowl of cut green chilli to go with it..:)

Angie's Recipes said...

Never had Korean mee hoon kueh before...looks very delicious!

Cooking Gallery said...

I have been wanting to try making Su Jae Bee ever since I saw the recipe in Maangchi's site, but haven't done so till now...! Yours looks very delicious and I love your little cute bowl :).

MoB said...

such a simple but delicious soup. not sure if i'm up to making my own pasta though

Joanne said...

Seeing as how I've never been to either country, I can't really pass judgment. Except to say that this soup looks fantastic. Love those thick noodles.

LimeCake said...

I've been dying to go to Korea for forever! I didn't know even this existed because I've never seen it at Korean restaurants. Looks delicious!

Pei-Lin said...

Envy you! You're so well traveled! I almost always learn something new each time I visit you here.

I've not tried this Korean dish ... though I myself am a huge Korean food fan. Lately, my family went to the Korean Village in KL (where a large number of Koreans reside in in KL) to have some Korean food. We tried the stir-fried Korean tung fun (glass vermicelli). Simply divine!

Thanks for sharing su jae bee with us. I learned something. =)

Edith said...

Beautiful write up! and I am tempting to make this on friday. So homey.

Lisa Ho said...

is it anything like Pan mee?
btw love your pot :)

Allie said...

yummy! I so love homecooked Korean food. The dishes my mum cooks are always the best.

This Mee Hoon Kueh is sooo comforting!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@Ho ho ho: Yes,I believe this is like Pan Mian.


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