Seaweed and ice, but hold the rice

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Seaweed and ice, but hold the rice

We live in a country with a critical lack of decent summertime food. Browsing through Miz Naver, a Korean online recipe site, I see that frustrated surfers have been searching for something to bring back the appetite they’ve lost to the heat. Here are the site’s most popular searches this week:
1. Tteokbokgi (spicy rice cakes). Not summer food, particularly.
2. Ham and cheese sandwiches. Summer food shouldn’t be confused with picnic food.
3. Mixed spicy noodles. Could be summer food (fighting heat with heat).
4. Egg-vegetable sandwiches. Not summer food.
5. Cold seaweed-cucumber soup. Definitely summer food.
Cold seaweed soup, or miyeok naengguk, would not make my list of favorite Korean dishes, but it’s good for the summertime.
This may reveal my culinary ignorance, but I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between cold soup and a salty beverage if one didn’t come in a bowl and the other in a cup. More devastatingly, I can’t eat cold soup and rice at the same time. Together, they kill my appetite.
I’d rather have chocolate fudge and a milkshake before the main meal than have cold soup before, or with, rice. It’s a strange habit, I admit, but I don’t mix cold soup with grains, rice in particular. Last winter, I had a strange stomachache for nearly two days after ordering apple soup in a French restaurant, not knowing that it was served cold. Apple extract and creamed salmon didn’t mix in my book.
I do, however, enjoy cold soup when rice isn’t involved. To endure hot summer nights, my family sometimes sits around the TV and munches on steamed potatoes, or broiled corn, with cold seaweed soup with ice cubes in it.
When I am really in the mood for a midnight binge, I dump thin noodles into the soup, along with slices of kimchi. A sane Korean would call this pig food, but it makes for a strange harmony on my tongue.
Tradition isn’t such a bad thing. For a summer snack, a bowl of seaweed soup will do. And it will relieve some guilt, if you’re calorie-conscious.


How to Cook

Miyeok naengguk

Ingredients: 7 grams dried seaweed, 1/2 cucumber, 1 red chili pepper, 1/2 green chili pepper, 2 green onions, 2 teaspoons crushed garlic, 4 cups of water. Sauce: 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, 5 teaspoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serves 4.
1. Wash the dried seaweed thoroughly in running water and boil for about 3 or 4 minutes until the plant turns dark green.
2. Cut the seaweed into 3-centimeter pieces.
3. Slice the cucumber into thin pieces.
4. Dice the green onions, red chili and green pepper.
5. Pour all the ingredients into a bowl. Add water and the sauce.
6. Add a few ice cubes and serve.
Provided by miz.naver.com, Delicook


by Park Soo-mee
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