Kalguksu is a warming, soothing hot noodle soup that’s made with knife-cut noodles. This recipe is made with rich chicken broth and shredded chicken meat. You can use commercially sold noodles or make noodles at home.
It’s been extremely hot and humid here! I previously mentioned the Korean idea of cooling off and boosting energy with boiling hot chicken soups, such as samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup)and dak gomtang (chicken soup). Add this dak kalguksu (닭칼국수) to the list!
What is kalguksu
Kalguksu (칼국수) means “knife noodles”, but it actually refers to a steaming hot noodle soup that’s traditionally made with handmade, knife-cut noodles. There are many variations using different ingredients for the soup base or for the dough. Dak (chicken) kalguksu is made with a rich chicken broth, and shredded chicken meat.
Typically, kalguksu also includes julienned or sliced vegetables such as onion, zucchini, carrot, and/or potato.
Kalguksu is delicious with baechu geotjeori (fresh kimchi)!
Dak kalguksu is typically made with a whole chicken. It’s a cheap way to feed more people, not to mention the stock will be more flavorful. You can cut up a whole chicken before boiling if you want it to cook a little faster.
If you want to use cut chicken pieces, leg quarters and chicken wings will be good for a flavorful stock. The soup is made similar to dak gomtang. Simply boil the chicken, with some aromatic vegetables, to make a flavorful broth, and shred the meat to use as a topping.
You can certainly use commercially packaged fresh kalguksu noodles available in the refrigerated section of Korean markets. There are also dried kalgusu noodles in the dried noodle section.
However, making noodles at home without a machine is not that difficult! You can make them at a moment’s notice as long as you have flour and salt! Homemade noodles taste so much better, and obviously they are much cheaper.
A bit of oil makes the dough silkier and a little easier to work with, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
I usually parboil the noodles in a separate pot before adding to the chicken broth. Otherwise, the soup can get very thick from all the starch the noodles release while cooking. However, it’s a matter of preference.
Dak Kalguksu (Korean Chicken Noodle Soup)Main
For the soup
- 1 small whole chicken 2.5 to 3 pounds, or bone-in pieces
- ½ medium onion
- 8 plump garlic cloves
- 3 to 4 thinly sliced ginger pieces
- 2 white parts of scallions
- 1 3- inch square dried kelp - optional
- 1/4 medium onion thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon soup soy sauce
For the chicken meat
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- salt about 1/2 teaspoon and pepper to taste
For the vegetables
- 1 medium zucchini julienned
- 2 scallions finely chopped
For the noodles
- 1 package (4 servings) fresh or dried kalguksu noodles or see below for homemade noodles
For the sauce (Yangnyumjang) - Optional
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes gochugaru
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 – 3 scallions finely chopped
For the homemade noodles - Optional
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil - optional
- 1 cup water (start with 3/4 and gradually more, a tablespoon at a time until needed)
- Place the cleaned chicken in a stockpot large enough to hold the chicken and 12 cups of water. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, scallions, and 12 cups water. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Skim off any foam on top. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes. Adjust cooking time for cut pieces of chicken. If making homemade noodles, this is a good time to start making the dough.
- To serve, ladle the noodles and soup in a serving bowl, top with the chicken pieces, zucchini, and chopped scallion.
For the homemade noodles - optional
- Mix the flour, salt, optional oil and add 3/4 water by hand until the dough starts to come together. You'll need to add more water, depending on your flour. Add 2 tablespoons water and see how it is. The dough should feel stiff to work with. If still too dry, add a little more.
- Flour the surface to knead. Knead with the heel of your hand until the dough is fairly smooth, about 5 minutes. The dough should feel slightly too stiff to work with at this point. You can adjust the dough by kneading in a little more flour or more water (just enough to wet your hands). Cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour. After resting, the dough should feel soft and smooth. You can prepare the dough up to this point a day in advance.
- When ready to use, knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2 pieces. Dust the work surface generously with flour. Flatten a piece, and roll it out with a rolling pin to make a thin sheet, about 12 x 14-inch.
- From the longer side, fold the dough over 3 to 4 times into layers. Again, generously flour the surface and the dough as you roll it out and fold to keep the dough from sticking.
- Cut the dough with a sharp knife into about 1/4-inch thickness. Unfold the noodles and dust with flour to keep the noodles strands separate.