Kalguksu (or Korean chicken noodle soup)

Growing up, this was one of the best meals to have when feeling sick and under the weather. As I got older, it finally occurred to me that this was basically just chicken noodle soup, but how the Koreans made it.


I almost never make my own noodles for this, though I was feeling inspired last weekend and finally gave it a shot.


In general though, if I can’t find a Korean grocery store or if I’m just feeling lazy I’ll just use udon or ramen noodles.  Kal-guk-su literally translates into “knife cut noodles” so to get the authentic flavor of these, it really is worth either making the noodles or finding them at a Korean grocery store.

For the soup

  • 2 lb of chicken
  • 1/2 cup of “gook-gang-jang” or soup soy sauce (if you can’t find it, I’ve heard you can substitute with fish sauce found in Asian aisles at grocery stores)
  • 1 zucchini, diced finely in matchstick pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • scallions (1 bunch)
  • sesame seeds
  • Korean red chili pepper flakes (go-chu-garu) optional for garnish

For the noodles

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

To make the soup:

  1. Bring a 5 qt pot of water (where the pot is about 70% full of water) to boil.  Add the chicken and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Skim the surface of the broth, and take out the chicken and move to a cutting board.
  3. Shred the chicken using 2 forks and put into a medium sized glass mixing bowl.  Add the soy sauce, scallions, sesame seed oil, and sesame seeds and mix thoroughly.  Feel free to add some more soy sauce if it’s not enough to coat all the shredded chicken.
  4. Add the soup soy sauce and the zucchini to the broth on the stove and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

To make the noodles:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and vegetable oil, and slowly add the cold water mixing to make a dough as you go.
  2. Mix and knead the dough until it hold shape in a ball.  Knead for another 5 minutes or so and then let rest for about 30 minutes in a covered bowl.
  3. After the 30 minutes, knead the dough again for about 5 minutes, and then roll it out like a large pancake until it is rather thin.  Add flour to the top of this “dough pancake,” flip over and add flour to the other side as well.  Then fold the pancake a few times over.  Cut the folded panckae in about 1/8″ increments to make the noodles.

Putting it all together

  1. Once the broth is back up to a boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Put some noodles in a bowl, add some liquid broth, and then garnish with a clump of the marinated chicken. Sprinkle some kochugaru if you have it, and enjoy!

(I personally love to add a lot of kimchi to this hearty dish – plus I think it helps with clearing out the sinuses!)


Postcard from LA – Korean Christmas Dinner

We did two Christmas meals this year, one at lunch with my grandmother and another at dinner with my dad’s family.  While lunch was more traditionally “American” (with delicious lobster tail and shrimp scampi), we had a very “Korean” dinner — which was great for me since I never feel like I can get enough of the food!  My uncle also brought over some amazing pies, a cherry pie and a buttermilk cream pie — and I’m convinced my stomach expanded that night to eat all the delicious food.










Postcard from LA – Korean Haute Cuisine

Growing up in LA, I mostly ate Korean food and had never heard of butternut squash, for example, until college.  While my Korean speaking is still at the level of a third grader, I think my Korean eating and appreciation of Korean food is much, much more elevated.  Given this, I was extremely excited to try out a new(ish) restaurant in LA downtown that is known for a specific type of Korean food, both in the method of serving, and in the nature of what is served, called “han jung sik.”image7.JPG

When I first tried this years ago in Korea, I was struck by how close the serving style seemed to the concept I was more familiar with – “prix fixe.”  It was not so much a surprise to learn therefore that apparently the concept of prix fixe derived from folks who had traveled to Korea and Japan and first came across this method of serving, known in Korea as “han jung sik” and in Japan as “kaseki.”


Much like prix fixe meals today, han junk sik was considered “haute cuisine” and how the aristocrats or “yang ban” ate.  The notable difference between what the yang ban ate and the average person apparently was whether or not they would eat noodles.


My grandmother who came to lunch with us chuckled as she remembered how her father would never eat noodles because of this tradition, and how our great grandmother  wasn’t allowed to either, despite the fact that one of her favorite dishes were cold noodles in a beef broth called “naeng myun.”  I like to think that my sister and I are making up for her naeng myun deficit since it’s probably our favorite dish and I think we’ve eaten enough of it to keep the noodle companies in business.


Strangely enough, despite this, the restaurant did offer naeng myun as a small side as a last dish – but we’re convinced that was just to keep the modern clientele happy.  (Either that or all those years my great grandmother could have had naeng myun!)


So what exactly did they serve us?  Well the few pictures above show a sampling, which included some Korean short ribs, special Kimchi that is stuffed with pine nuts and small fish, and a broth with vegetables served on an extremely fancy dragon dish.  But the pictures don’t even do the food justice, so check it out if you’re in LA!

Kimchi Casserole (“Chigae”)

Growing up in a Korean household, I ate dinner every night with chopsticks and rice and all sorts of delicious casseroles.  Upon graduating college and going out into the real world, I always craved eating Korean food but never really stocked up my pantry to make it until more recently.

kimchi chigae

Thankfully, I was just visiting home and my dad whipped up a classic Korean casserole that really gets the sinuses going since it’s so spicy.  The beauty of living in New York or near a computer is that you can in fact get most of the ingredients for this because it is really just kimchi boiled into a soup, and so I’ve added some links here to help with that too.


  • 3 cups chopped kimchi 
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 4-6 oz pork tenderloin, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 container of Soft Tofu
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed oil (can also find this in grocery stores in the “Asian” section)
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 1 cup chopped button mushrooms (optional)


  1. Heat up a medium sized pot over high heat.  Add the sesame seed oil and cook the pork in the oil.  Once the pork has changed color, add the Kimchi and continue to stir and sauté until the pork is cooked, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add about 3 cups of water or just enough to cover the kimchi and pork in the pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, and then add the tofu.
  3. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, and then bring the soup down to a simmer.  Add the sugar and soy sauce and optional button mushrooms.  Cover the pot, and let the soup cook for about 15 minutes.  (My dad says at this point to open all your windows so that that smell doesn’t stink up your whole house.)
  4. Serve immediately with lots of rice.

Korean Feast

When I visit my parents in LA, both Matt and I tend to stuff our faces with Korean food for almost every meal (and yes sometimes that includes breakfast).  The thing with Korean food is that there’s always a main dish and then seemingly 400 side dishes that all complement the main entree, as well as rice.

Korean Feast

While I won’t be chronicling all the dishes my parents made, I’ll post one or two that have ingredients that are fairly accessible.  In the meantime, here’s just a snapshot of what an average Korean meal in LA looks like.