Today, I’m updating my bukeoguk post that was originally posted in December 2009 with a better photo and slight changes to the recipe. Bukeoguk is a soup made with dried pollock (also spelled pollack). Depending on the process used to dry the fish, dried pollock is usually called bukeo or hwangtae. You can use either one for this soup. Dried pollock keeps well for a long time and can be rehydrated very quickly by soaking it in warm water. Keep a bag of shredded bukeo (or hwangtae) in your pantry. It comes in handy for a quick soup or side dish.
The unique flavor of the dried fish makes the soup very flavorful but not fishy. Dried pollock is a rich source of proteins and amino acids and is known to have detoxifying and soothing effects. This explains why bukeoguk is very popular as a hang-over remedy in Korea. Despite the simplicity of the dish, bukeoguk (with tofu) was one of the elaborate menu items served to President Obama at his luncheon with the South Korean President, Lee Myong-bak, during his visit to Seoul in 2009. You can make it simply with eggs and scallions, but it’s common to add Korean radish, potatoes, soybean sprouts, and/or tofu. Bukeoguk is a quick and easy soup that’s perfect for cold winter days!
2 ounces dried pollock (bukeo/hwangtae) strips – 1 cup packed after being soaked and squeezed
1 medium potato (or equal amount of Korean radish)
6 ounces tofu
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon soup soy sauce – gukganjang
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and soak the dried pollock strips in warm water until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking water. Lightly squeeze out the water, and tear the strips into bite sizes.
Cut the potato in half lengthwise, and slice into half-moon shapes. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch thick bite-size pieces. Cut the scallions into 1-inch lengths.
In a heated medium pot, sauté the pollock in the sesame oil (about 2 to 3 minutes) over medium high heat. Lightly season with salt. (If using Korean radish, sauté it with the pollock.) Add 6 cups of water, including the water used to soak the pollock, and soy sauce to the pot. Bring it to a boil, covered. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue to boil for 7 to 8 minutes.
Add the potatoes, tofu, and garlic. Increase the heat to medium high, and cook until potatoes are cooked, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the potato. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the scallions, and drizzle the beaten egg over the boiling soup. Turn the heat off as soon as the scallions are slightly wilted.