Have this cold cucumber soup as a light lunch, a starter before dinner, or as a mid-afternoon snack when you need a boost and a cool-down all at once.
By Jacqui Gabel
I love the heat, but Seoul’s summers can be brutal. When the temperatures soar, I daydream of boxes of ice water where I bury my head until my cheeks sting, turtle-like, but without the dirt. In real life, I eat lots of cold soups. Hye Rae showed me this recipe a few weeks ago, and I thought I’d be saving it until July before I’d need it. Not so. The time is now. She called it “diet soup” with a sly grin, knowing the nickname would normally never appeal to either of us. Salty, sour, spicy, and sweet, you don’t realize how light you’re really eating until afterward when you feel amazing, your lips tingling from the cold, spicy broth. Have this for a light lunch, a starter before dinner, or as a mid-afternoon snack when you need a boost and a cool-down all at once.
*The combination of cucumber and miyeok, type of seaweed, is delicious and healthful, but you could leave it out altogether if you prefer. Find dried miyeok in Asian markets outside of Korea, or at any small or large market in Korea.
oi = cucumber
naeng = cold
guk = thin soup
- ¼ cup dried miyeok
- ¼ onion
- ½ long cucumber
- ½ carrot
- 1 small red chili pepper
- 1 small green chili pepper
- ½ clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt + more for cucumbers
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1½ cups cold water
- ice cubes
- toasted sesame seeds
- Soak miyeok in water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the vegetables and stick clean spoons in the freezer to chill.
- Cut cucumber and carrot into matchsticks.
- Salt cucumber lightly and set aside.
- Mince garlic.
- Slice onion and chili peppers thinly. If you like spice, leave the ribs and seeds. If you don't, scrape them out and discard.
- Rinse miyeok three times, then drain and squeeze out excess water.
- Mix miyeok with vegetables, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Add cold water and vinegar. Taste. Adjust with more salt, sugar, or vinegar until the flavors are balanced.
- Pour into bowl(s) and add a few ice cubes just before serving.
- Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, crushing the seeds in your hands as you do.
- Serve with chilled spoon.
Jacqui Gabel hails from Minnesota and lives in Seoul. Her motivation to travel stems from a yearning to learn through food, and she is particularly interested in what people eat for breakfast. Jacqui has waitressed, taught kindergarten, designed pantyhose, and sold wine and costume jewelry. Once a week, she visits her friend Hye Rae's Seoul kitchen, and they show each other a thing or two of what they know. If the recipe is Korean, she learned it from Hye Rae. Jacqui loves to cook and feed, and she writes about travel, food, and identity on her blog.