Despite its light appearance, this Korean beef soup is big on taste and makes for great comfort food, says SYLVIA TAN.
"Picture provided by SPH"
Nothing does it like a bowl of piping hot soup to end a meal. At least that is how
the Chinese like it. Westerners, however, have their soup at the beginning of a meal.
The Teochews like theirs clear but the Cantonese and Hakkas prefer a thick rich broth.
Whatever the style, most cultures would agree that a bowl of soup, thick or thin, is nourishing.
My mother always made a double-boiled soup when flu was in the air.
Both the Filipinos and Koreans make a beef soup when the weather turns cold.
The Filipinos use rich marrow bones for their soup while the Koreans cook their clear and clean Dduk Gook or rice cake soup during their new year.
While other cultures have their versions of nourishing soups, the Korean beef soup intrigues me. Despite its light appearance, it is surprisingly full of taste, thanks no doubt to the fact that it is served with a scattering of chopped garlic, spring onions and chilli flakes.
The beef is shredded, then dressed with a sesame oil and soya sauce dressing, adding even more flavour to the dish.
I was surprised to find that the rice cakes used for the soup are similar to the Shanghainese version. Made of glutinous rice, they are al dente – soft, yet resilient to the bite. You eat them not only as a stomach-filler but also for their beguiling chewy texture.
Indeed, the combination makes for a hearty and tasty yet low-fat meal.
For people who still think that red meat is unhealthy, let me reiterate that lean beef adds
much needed protein, zinc and valuable B complex vitamins to one’s diet.
Besides, the beef used here is lean as all visible fat is removed.
These days, I make my stock a day ahead and chill it overnight in the fridge. The fat then forms a layer on top and you can easily remove it from the surface, leaving behind pure beefy goodness.
Papaya titek (For 8-10)
- 400g dried rice cakes, available in supermarkets or Korean stores
- 400g beef brisket or shin beef
- 12 cups water
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp light soya sauce
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbs light soya sauce
- 1 tbs chopped garlic
- 1 stalk spring onion, chopped
- Dried red chilli flakes
- Salt and black pepper
- Soak the dried rice cakes in water till they are soft.
- Remove and set aside. They do not take long to soften.
- Bring the water to boil in a pot and add the whole piece of beef. Turn down the heat and simmer till the meat is fork tender, removing the scum that rises from time to time.
- Remove the beef, cool and shred it.
- Season the shredded beef to your taste with sesame oil, 1 tsp chopped garlic and 1 tsp soya sauce. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Season the beaten eggs with salt and fry, using just a little oil, to make a thin omelette.
- Roll up the omelette and slice thinly into strips. Leave it aside.
- When you are ready to eat, bring the soup to the boil again and add 1 tbs soya sauce and 1 tbs chopped garlic. Add the rice cakes and cook till they are softened.
- Serve the rice cakes and soup in a bowl. Top with the shredded beef and egg.
- Garnish with spring onions and chilli flakes. Offer salt and pepper on the side.