Kongnamul Guk is Korean Soybean Sprout Soup.
It’s one of those everyday soups that we grow up eating – typically for breakfast.
In my family, our breakfast would like something like this:
- Mixed Grain Rice, a bowl of Kongnamul Guk, Gyeran Mari (or a fried egg) and pan-fried mini sausages.
This breakfast combo was always so tasty and filling – a great way to start the day!
The best thing about Kongnamul guk is that it's very simple to make.You don’t need to add other things than the sprouts, a few slices of spring onion and minced garlic.
Cooking notes for Kongnamul Guk
The tricky part is nailing down the seasoning to be just right.
Most recipes will use either (a) Saeu-jeot (salted fermented shrimp) or (b) Korean Anchovy fish sauce (멸치액젓).
Since many of our readers don’t have easy access to a Korean market, saeu-jeot (which is a fresh item) may be hard to source.
So, we'll work with Korean Anchovy Fish Sauce.
Actually, you can season the soup with any of the following: Korean Anchovy Fish Sauce (멸치액젓), Korean Sand Lance Fish Sauce (까나리 액젓), Korean Tuna Fish Sauce (참치액젓) or Saeu-Jeot (새우젓).
Use ½ Tablespoon of any of the listed sauces above.
Pro-Tip: If you want your kongnamul guk to be more flavorful (as opposed to subtle, natural), increase the amount from ½ Tablespoon to ¾ Tablespoon.
After the fish sauce, we’ll add ½ Tablespoon of Soup Soy Sauce.
Why Soup Soy Sauce? Soup Soy Sauce is saltier and less-darker in color than regular Soy Sauce. It will prevent the soup from getting too dark in color.
Finally, we'll finish seasoning with 1 teaspoon(!) - NOT Tablespoon - of Kosher Salt .
Afterwards, I want to make sure you give the soup a final taste!
If it tastes slightly bland, season to taste with a few more pinches of Kosher salt (we added-in 2 sprinkles more!).
Some of our readers have asked… whether they can substitute soybean sprouts with mungbean sprouts?
The answer is no – soybean sprouts retain their crunch and texture when boiled, whereas mungbean sprout turn soft & mushy.
Optional: I like to add 3-4 thin slices of Cheongyang Chili Pepper.
This gives the soup a slight, uplifting kick at the end. (You can substitute with 2-3 thin slices of Jalapeno Pepper as well.)
Save the leftovers in the refrigerator – as the soup tastes better the next day!
I actually enjoy eating the soup cold too – it’s very refreshing on hot days.
Enjoy ya’ll – and I hope you try one of Korea’s essential guk recipes.
If you find success with the recipe - tag a picture of your dish in IG.
We enjoy flipping through your pics in the morning 😉
(P.s. If you’re cooking alone, don’t get bored. Consider listening to our latest podcast episode while you cook!)
- 250 grams Soybean Sprouts
- 500 ml Anchovy Kelp Broth (~2 cups, for making broth)
- 750 ml Water (~3 cups, to add to broth)
- ½ Tablespoon Minced Garlic
- ½ Tablespoon Soup Soy Sauce
- ½ Tablespoon Korean Anchovy Fish Sauce (or ½ Tablespoon of Saeu-jeot)
- 1 teaspoon(!) Kosher Salt (*use teaspoon, not Tablespoon!)
- 5 Tablespoons Sliced Spring Onion
- 4-5 slices Cheongyang Chili Peppers (optional ingredient)
- Wash 250 grams of soybean sprout (~about 3 large handfuls). Wash and drain the sprouts 2-3 times - this will help remove any leftover or old skins from the sprouts.
- Then make 2 cups (~500ml) of anchovy-kelp broth. To do so, use an anchovy-kelp broth bag and place it into 2 cups of water. Bring it up to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a medium-low and let it gently simmer away for 10 minutes.
- While we wait for the broth, let's prep fresh ingredients...
- Mince a few pieces of garlic - set aside ½ Tablespoon worth.
- Then thinly slice a small piece of spring onion - use both the green & white portions. Set aside 5 Tablespoons worth.
- Optional: If you want to add a slightly spicy kick to your soup, thinly slice ⅓ of a Cheongyang Chili Pepper (we need 4-5 THIN slices).
- Now back to the broth. After 10 minutes of simmering, take out the broth bag. Then, use a soup ladle and skim off any foam from the surface.
- Next, we'll add 3 cups of water (~750 ml) to the broth.
- Next, add-in all of the soybean sprouts into the pot.
- Now, raise the heat to a medium-high and bring the pot up to a boil (don't place the lid on the pot - keep it off so the slight smell from the soybean sprouts can fly away).
- Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to a medium-low.
- Now, let it gently simmer away for 5 minutes - use a timer.
- After 5 minutes, let's season the broth by adding-in: Minced Garlic (½ Tablespoon), Soup Soy Sauce (½ Tablespoon), Anchovy Fish Sauce (½ Tablespoon), Kosher Salt (1 teaspoon!)
- Add in the Diced Spring Onion Slices (5 Tablespoons) and 4-5 slices of Cheongyang Chili Pepper (optional) if you like now!
- Now, give the soup a taste! Add a few more pinches of salt if it tastes slightly bland - or a splash more of the fish sauce!
- Bon Appetit - serve with a bowl of rice and a fried egg on the side!