Why It Works
- Removing the heads and entrails from the anchovies ensures the soup doesn't take on any bitter notes.
- Rinsing the noodles before cooking removes excess starch, which would otherwise cloud and thicken the broth too much.
Myeolchi Kal Guksu, or anchovy knife-cut noodles, is probably the most basic of all the Korean hot noodle soups. It starts with an easy and flavorful broth made by simmering dried anchovies, dried kelp (sold as dashima in Korean and kombu in Japanese), and either some dried herring or an easy seafood flavor packet available at Korean grocers. Then the solids are strained out, and store-bought fresh noodles and a small handful of simple vegetables like summer squash, potato, onion, and garlic are simmered until tender.
The finished soup is warm and comforting, but it still has some additional kick, thanks to your choice of toppings, including fresh scallions, a showering of black pepper, spicy chilies, and crushed dried seaweed.
If you want a little variation, you can use chicken stock in place of the anchovy stock, or add some clams to the pot about halfway through the noodle cooking time, which should be just long enough for the clams to open up and release their briny liquid into the broth.
Serve with a side of kimchi for a simple, hearty meal.
- 15 stock anchovies, heads and entrails removed (see note)
- 4 diphori (dried large-eyed herring) or 1 Korean seafood packet (see note)
- One 1 1/2- by 6-inch piece dried dashima (also sold as kombu, which is the Japanese name)
- 2 portions fresh Korean knife-cut fresh noodles (see note)
- 8 ounces (225g) zucchini or Korean summer squash (about half of 1 large squash), cut into 1/8 inch thick half-moons
- One 8-ounce (225g) white potato, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch thick half-moons
- One 8-ounce (225g) yellow onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 2 ounces (55g) carrot (about half a small to medium carrot), julienned
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) joseon ganjang (Korean soy-only soy sauce, see note)
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
- Sliced fresh red Korean chilies and roasted and crushed gim (dried laver seaweed, sold as nori in Japanese), for garnish (optional)
In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine dried anchovies, herring (or seafood packet), and dashima, with 2 quarts plus one cup cold water (2 liters). Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain simmer. Cook until most of the flavor has been extracted from the dried anchovies (taste one!), about 20 minutes.
Strain stock and discard solids. Return stock to pot and bring back to a simmer.
Gently shake off any loose starch from the noodles. Place them in a sieve and rinse gently under cold running water, without rubbing, until the excess starch is rinsed off and the water runs clear.
Add the noodles, squash, potato, onion, carrot, and garlic to the stock and simmer until vegetables are just tender and noodles are cooked through, about 7 minutes; using chopsticks, gently tease the noodles apart as they cook to ensure they don't clump.
Stir in soy sauce, then season further with salt to taste.
Transfer noodles to warmed bowls. Top with vegetables, then ladle in broth. Garnish each bowl with freshly ground black pepper, if desired, and scallions. Top with any other desired garnishes, including sliced chilies and/or crushed seaweed. Serve right away.
Large pot or Dutch oven
There are different kinds of Korean dried anchovies; the ones for stock will be about as big as your thumb. If using a seafood packet, look for ones that contain dried anchovy, shrimp, and kelp (some dried radish and mushroom in the mix is fine, too).
Ready-made knife-cut noodles are long, white wheat noodles that you can find in Korean grocery stores with the label "칼국수" in the refrigerated section; they are pre-portioned into twisted bunches.
Joseon ganjang is made only from soybeans with no wheat; check the ingredient label, as ones with wheat will make the soup too sweet.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The soup is best eaten shortly after cooking.