Sunday, June 20, 2010

Janchi Guksu (Korean Warm Noodle Soup)

Janchi guksu, translated into "banquet/feast noodles," is a simple warm noodle dish made with thin wheat flour noodles (somyeon) that are usually in a clear anchovy or beef broth. It is typically topped with thin strips of beef, eggs, and vegetables. The most common vegetable used for this noodle dish is zucchini. This warm noodle bowl is usually served with spicy soy sauce based sauce (yangnyeomjang). However, I personally like it without the overpowering flavor of the sauce because I enjoy the clear and refreshing broth. Noodles symbolize long and happy lives in Korean culture. Thus, this noodle dish is traditionally served alongside other special occasion foods at large feasts such as weddings. The name of the dish comes from that tradition. In my family, this is another easy go-to meal when we crave something warm and light. It is one of the most frequently requested meals by my daughter when she comes home from college.

2 servings
8 ounce somyeon (somen) noodles
Anchovy Broth:
10 - 12 medium to large dried anchovies (Myulchi)
1 3-inch square dried kelp (dasima/kombu)
4 oz Korean radish*, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 onion*
2 garlic cloves*
1/2 of scallion* (white part)
6 cups water

1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably soup soy sauce - gukganjang)

(*Simple anchovy broth can be made with dried anchovies and kelp. However, the vegetables will add more depth to the flavor of the broth. You can freeze any leftover broth to use at another time for making jjigae or gaeranjjim.)

1/2 zucchini (4 ounce), julienned
1 small carrot (3 ounce), julienned
1 egg, beaten and fried into a thin sheet (jidan), julienned
3 ounce beef, cut into thin strips
1/2 scallion (green part), chopped

(*Other common toppings include eomuk (fish cake), mushrooms, onion, and kimchi.)

Sauce (Yangnyeomjang) - Optional:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Korean chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1 scallion finely chopped

(Mix all sauce ingredients well and set aside.)

Add all broth ingredients to a medium pot, except the soy sauce. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and boil for 10 minutes, uncovered. Remove anchovies and kelp from the broth. Add the soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste and boil for an additional 15 minutes over medium heat. Remove all the aromatic vegetables from the broth. Keep it warm over very low heat while preparing the toppings and noodles.

Season the beef strips with 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, and pinch black pepper. Set aside while preparing the vegetables.

Lightly sprinkle salt over julienned zucchini and set aside for 5 - 10 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid from salted zucchini by hand. Sauté in a lightly oiled skillet over medium high heat (1 - 2 minutes).

Sauté the julienned carrots in a lightly oiled skillet over medium high heat (1- 2 minutes), sprinkling salt and pepper to taste. (If using eomuk, mushrooms, or onion, cook the same way.)

Sauté the beef in a skillet for 2 - 3 minutes over high heat.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook somyeon noodles according to the package instructions (about 3 minutes). Drain quickly and shock in cold water to stop cooking. Continue to drain and rinse in cold water. (Somyeon noodles are not resilient. This rinsing process is important so the noodles don't get soggy.) Make two one-serving size mounds as you remove from the water. Place the mounds in a colander to drain.

Place the noodles in a serving bowl. Pour the hot broth over the noodles. Nicely arrange a small amount of each topping on top of the noodles. Finish the dish off with a sprinkle of the chopped scallions.

Serve warm with the optional sauce on the side.


  1. I've never had this but it sounds wonderful!! It reminds me a little of Chinese Mee Sua Soup which also uses soft, fine wheat noodles in a clear and light broth, traditionally topped with pork and kidneys.

    I really think I would enjoy this very much! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. So pretty... I may have to roll up my sleeves and give this a try! :)

  3. I just happened upon your blog. You've got wonderful recipes and photos.

  4. Denise, wannafoodie, and Moogie - Thank you all for visiting and leaving nice comments! Hope you get to try the recipe and enjoy.

  5. I wonder if these noodles are the equivalent of Japanese somen noodles. My mom recently introduced me to a hot somen soup but it was something we bought, not made and I have been trying to figure out how to replicate it. This looks fantastic and I would love to try this. :)

  6. i am making this tonight for a nice, light meal. what type of beef do you usually prefer to use? when i don't have time to go to the Korean market, the American market beef choices seem more limited.

  7. I am sorry I just came home. You can use any tender cut of meat, such as sirloin or rib eye. Hope this helps. Thanks.

  8. I ended up using ribeye. My dish looked almost like yours, and I was so proud! Hubby and daughter gobbled it up. Thank you so much for keeping me inspired!

  9. I am delighted to hear it turned out well for you! Thanks for trying it out and for the feedback.

  10. Just a question . . is the recipe for only 2 servings? I want to serve this meal to 4 adults and 2 children . . thanks!

  11. Sophia - Yes, the recipe is for 2 servings. You will need to at least double the recipe for the number of people you have, depending on how big children are. Funny you asked because I made this for 4 adults for lunch today. Just made a big pot of anchovy stock III from:
    Of course I doubled the noodles and vegetables. Enjoy!

  12. A wonderful looking dish!

    Can I substitute spaghettini for the noodles? Thank you.

    1. Any noodles are okay, but thin noodles like angel hair would be better. Enjoy!

  13. Hi, my grandma used to make this a lot. She also used a packet that came in a box for the soup, its the same color as this, could you be able to tell me what the packet is? I tried to find it in hmart but I can't clearly remember what she used. I made this though, its good, reminds me of my grandma's cooking, all the recipes I tried remind me of my grandma's cooking =)

    1. Hi Dana - I'm glad janchi guksu turned out well for you. Thanks for letting me know. I believe it's anchovy powder pack (마른 멸치 팩). It's a convenient pack that makes anchovy broth quicker. I've never used it, so I'm not sure what else is in it other than the anchovy powder. Several packets come in a box or a package. Hope this helps. Happy Korean cooking!