Korea is the only country in Asia—except for regions of northern China—that uses beef as part of the regular diet. This delicious soup starts out with strips of steak marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and kimchee—Korean preserved cabbage. The Koreans eat kimchee with almost every meal, and once you’ve tasted it you’ll find it easy to understand why. Kimchee is easy to find in any grocery that sells Korean food products, or you can make it yourself.
Another staple of the Korean diet, and an essential flavoring in this soup, is twoenjang—fermented soybean paste. Twoenjang is the Korean equivalent of Japanese miso, which in a pinch can be used as a substitute.
Drain the steak and quickly dry it in paper towels—don’t leave it in the paper towels for more than a minute or two, or it may stick. Discard the marinade.
Heat the peanut oil in a skillet until it just begins to smoke. Add the beef strips and gently stir them around for about 3 minutes, until they brown slightly. Turn the heat down to medium, add the kimchee and the twoenjang, and stir for a few seconds, until the twoenjang coats the pieces of beef.
Add the water, chilies, tofu, mushrooms, and daikon. Simmer the soup gently for about 10 minutes.
Add the scallions and simmer for about 30 seconds more. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
© 2000 James Peterson. All rights reserved.