Yukgaejang was a pretty staple soup in our household when we were growing up. It was a soup that was so satisfying and one that you can mess around with to make it your own. When my mom made this soup she would put in extra bean sprouts while my dad would put in twice the amount of green onions and finish it with a couple of beaten eggs. Something they both did that I haven’t really seen anywhere else is that they would add Korean sweet potato noodles that are also called Korean vermicelli noodles which many of you may know as the noodle used for the mega delicious Korean dish, japchae. I recently asked my mom why both she and my dad would add this noodle she said, “to make it more tasty.”
Korean vermicelli noodles are a clear noodle that are made from sweet potato starch and water. This makes them both gluten free and paleo. You’ll only be using a small portion of the package for this dish but I will include other recipes in the future using this very versatile noodle. My version of this dish does not include one of its staple ingredients of bracken fern, simply because I’m not a big fan. When I was little because it would look just like shredded beef I would take a bite and be deeply disappointed. I really like beef.
The secret behind this dish is to sautee the gochugaru (Korean dried chili flakes). Some of you may be familiar with this ingredient after using it in our Korean Spiced Chicken Thighs recipe. You can adjust the amount you use to control the spice level. This soup may look very spicy because of its bright red color, but you’d be surprised by the mild spice level. What you’re seeing is the oil released in the gochugaru to give it that vibrant color. Tips to control the level of spiciness can be found in the directions below.
Yukgaejang is a soup that can be enjoyed alone, with a scoop of white rice, or a side of rice and all the Korean sides (AKA banchan). If you’re getting over a pesky cold, suffering from nasal allergies, or need a good hangover cure, this dish is for you.