The cuisine of South Korea is extensive. Some truly amazing food lies in wait around every corner and we take full advantage of this fortunate problem regularly. One of our favorite soups, haejangguk, is one that we seek out on a regular basis and we’ve been lucky to have a really good place about 100 feet from our front door. Thinking back on our first arrival in Yeosu, there were two dishes that we made sure that we could find specifically, and haejangguk was one of them. Korean cuisine varies slightly in each province so we made sure that Jeollanamdo still knew how to make this Hedger family favorite.
Consisting of a dark broth that includes ox blood and lots of pepper (black and red), this soup comes to your table boiling in an earthenware stone pot that keeps your onions, napa cabbage, soybean paste, garlic, spicy green peppers, and some other sort of magic all at a rolling boil. This spicy soup has enough pepper to make you cough just from inhaling the steam billowing off of the soup’s surface.
I’m pretty sure this healthy dose of smoky pepper and the effort needed to remove the meat from the ox bones play into the belief in this soup’s curative properties. Directly translated, haejangguk means “soup to chase a hangover.” Most Koreans seek this dish after a long night of drinking and many restaurants specializing in this particular soup are open 24 hours to cater to the needs of drinkers.
Despite the name and connotation, this soup is pretty popular for all occasions and winter temperatures give me daily cravings for its thick, savory goodness. There are other soups and stews in Korea that we absolutely crave, but this one is my absolute favorite.
Check out the video and let us know what you think!