What is janchi guksu? It’s a simple yet hearty noodle soup that is eaten so frequently in Korea that it’s often taken for granted. The word janchi means party or banquet, and at many Korean weddings or church events, janchi guksu is the go-to meal to serve a large crowd. Vats of soup along with a variety of toppings are made in advance and the noodles can be cooked as needed in just a few minutes.
Here in the States, janchi guksu is so rarely served either at events or restaurants, that we consider it a big treat to have big steaming bowls of it on a cold winter evening when we want a quick healthy meal. It’s so much healthier than ramen, and not a whole lot harder to make. If we’re in a hurry, I’ll skip all the toppings and just add some seasoned kimchi.
This recipe by Hyo Sun Ro is amazingly simple and delicious. I use my trusty anchovy tea bag to make the nutritious and tasty broth and the only other ingredient needed for the broth is Korean soup soy sauce!
Koreans tend to lightly season all the vegetable toppings with salt but I find this unnecessary especially since my husband has to watch his salt intake. The only tricky part to this dish is to not overcook the noodles. The quick cooling down and then warming back up of the noodles might take some practice but I promise you it’s worth it.
Enjoy this hearty and delicious party in a bowl!
- 8 ounces somyeon / somen noodles or 2 or 3 bundles
Toppings (see note):
- 1/2 zucchini (about 3 ounces, julienned)
- 1 small carrot (3 ounces, julienned)
- 3 Mushroom caps
- 1 egg
- 3 ounces bulgogi (tender beef, cut into thin strips, seasoned with 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, and pinch black pepper)
- 3 ounces kimchi, thinly sliced, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 sheet gim (roasted dried seaweed sheet), cut into short strips or crushed
- 1/2 scallion – green part, chopped
- Prepare anchovy broth adding anchovy tea bag to boiling water and allowing to simmer for 10 minutes. Season with the soup soy sauce to taste. Keep it hot over low heat while preparing the toppings and noodles.
- Sauté zucchini in a lightly oiled skillet over medium high heat (1 – 2 minutes) and then remove from heat. Sauté the julienned carrots and mushrooms over medium high heat (1- 2 minutes).
- Beat the egg well, and fry on medium heat into a thin sheet (jidan). Slice into strips.
- Beef: Sauté the beef for 2 – 3 minutes over medium high heat.
- Kimchi: Chop the kimchi, and mix with 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook somyeon noodles according to the package instructions (about 3 minutes). Drain quickly and shock in cold water to stop cooking. Continue to drain and rinse in cold water. Make two one-serving size mounds as you remove from the water. Place the mounds in a colander to drain.
- Place the noodles in serving bowls. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles to cover all the noodles, and pour it back to the pot by holding the noodles with the ladle. This will warm the noodles. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles again. Nicely arrange a small amount of each topping on top of the noodles. Finish the dish off with a sprinkle of the optional chopped scallions. Serve warm with the optional sauce on the side.
As is the tradition in Korea, feel free to pick and choose any number or combination of toppings!