In the last few days, the weather has wearily cooled down with frequent rain. Uncomfortable humidity makes it feel hotter than weather reports want you to believe. As much as I feel the days are moving fast-forward to greet the autumn, August still belongs to the summer season.
So before the season’s over, I want to squeeze in a couple more summer dishes in the coming posts, including today’s black kong guksu (콩국수), literally meaning bean (콩; kong) noodles (국수; guk su). It is one of the most popular summer dishes and regarded highly for its nutritional values. In its simplest form, you will find somyeon (소면; white wheat noodles, thin like angel hair) in chilled soy milk, often freshly made by boiling crushed soy beans with water and seasoned only with salt. You might find some garnish of sliced cucumbers and an accompaniment of tangy kimchi, but not much else.
Over time, the dish has evolved and now you can find a variety of kong guksu. From the simple original version to the ones that use more nuts, such as pine nuts and peanuts to enhance the flavor and mask beany flavor that some people complain about kong guksu. There are also different black kong guksu versions in which the soup is made with black beans (instead of soy beans) and other ingredients added for flavor, color and nutrients, such as black sesame seeds and whatever nuts you like.
Making this dish at home can’t be easier. Feel free to make your own soy milk, but I often use soy milk or regular milk, already chilled and conveniently located in my refrigerator. If you are buying soy milk for this recipe, stick to unsweetened soy milk with no additional flavoring, so that you can use it for this savory dish.
If you want to deviate from the usual kong guksu and find out how a healthful combination of black beans, black sesame seeds and milk come together as a surprising, flavorful simplicity, try making this. It refreshes you, it cools you down, then the remaining muggy heat isn’t so bad anymore.
I usually have a batch of black beans in the refrigerator ready to go for my morning smoothie, so you can soak a bag of black beans overnight and boil them to try both my smoothie and black kong guksu. Any leftover beans can be refrigerated for about a week or frozen for later use. Otherwise, feel free to use canned black beans. Rinse them lightly and just be careful with seasoning as those usually come already salted.
Ripe kimchi with a slight tang is a great compliment to chilled kong guksu and, not surprisingly, it is the most common side dish served with kong guksu.
Just a thought about an image of a dish that is mostly black and white…Would it matter if the picture of the dish shows only black and white colors? Would the black and white image help because, now, it focuses on the simplicity of the dish? Or because colors are so important in food, even if the dish is mostly different shades of black and white, does it now look less appetizing? A random thought of the day…
By the way, I just got back from Korea Day in Central Park. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in NYC ~ great food, fun music and DYI Korean food experience until 7PM tonight. I hope you can make it! I’ll have a full report later.
bean 콩 (kong)
sesame seed 깨 (ggae)