Bukeoguk (북어국) 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 (북어)or hwangtae (황태). 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.
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. The unique flavor of the dried fish makes the soup very flavorful but not fishy.
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.
The soaked pollock is firstsautéed in sesame oil. This step helps bring out the flavor of the dried fish and makes the soup taste richer.
You can make it simply with eggs and scallions, but it’s very 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!
Bukeoguk (Dried Pollock Soup)
- 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 scallions
- 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 size pieces.
- 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, and continue to boil for 7 to 8 minutes. Add the potatoes, tofu, and garlic.
- Cook until potatoes are cooked, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium low, drop the scallions in, and gently drizzle the beaten egg over the boiling soup right before turning the heat off.