Truth be told, I'm not a naturally friendly person. Yes, I can be outgoing but I'm just as comfortable being a hermit in my kitchen. Friends in college used to make fun of me for the scowl I wore around campus. "I can't help it," I'd protest. "It's just the way my face falls!" However, in the last few years I've made a concerted effort to flex my "friendly" muscle and even, heaven forbid, smile at people. It's actually quite nice. Anyhoo, it was on such a "friendly" muscle flexing day that I met Susan. We were seated next to each other and listening to a lecture on Spring cleanses. "She's pretty, well-dressed, and looks nice," I said to myself. "I should talk to her." And so I did! We proceeded to have a great conversation and before I could even stop myself I blurted out, "Hey, you should come over for dinner!" That's right, I invited a perfect stranger (and her husband) to my house. I was really stepping out! A few weeks later Susan and Sung came over for dinner and we had a fantastic time. As it turns out, Sung is a brew master which was an immediate plus for Gray. As the boys talked beer making and micro brews, Susan and I chatted about our mutual food philosophy and favorite recipes. The evening ended with hugs all around and promises to get together soon. That was over a year ago and I now consider them to be some of our closest friends.
So close in fact, we were able to weasel our way over for a traditional Korean feast a few weeks ago. Susan is a brilliant chef but this was my first time experiencing her Korean cooking. (To be fair, Sung cooked as well.) What a treat it was! We had garlic and sesame infused short ribs with shiso leaves, purple rice with kidney beans, handmade mung bean cakes (out of this world!!!), kimchee, marinated bellflower root and cucumbers, and seaweed soup.
My mouth waters just thinking about the meal. Each dish was masterfully constructed and had a depth of flavor that left the palate begging for more. As you can imagine, there were very few leftovers.
I asked Susan to share a recipe from the evening and she generously sent me the instructions for her seaweed soup. Besides being quite yummy and easy to make, this soup is particularly nourishing for those who are sick or have recently given birth. The seaweed's high mineral content is ideal for strengthening any compromised system. Enjoy!
Seaweed Soup (Miyeok Guk)
1 tbsp. toasted unrefined sesame oil
1/4 pound beef sirloin tips or rib sys steak, sliced into matchstick strips (Optional. You can also add shredded chicken instead or leave the meat out completely)
3/4 oz (little more than 1/4 cup) seaweed, reconstituted in water, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. tamari
4 cups water
Sea salt and pepper
In a medium pot, add the sesame oil and place over low heat. Add the beef, reconstituted seaweed, garlic, and soy sauce. Stir fry until the beef is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the water and cook until the soup is very hot, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Delicious served with rice and kimchee.