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Korean White Radish Soup Recipe (Moo Gook)

Most of us have our favorite childhood dishes. One that stands out for me is my mom's moo gook - a traditional Korean soup that's made with white radish.

White radish, called "moo" in Korean, is sometimes called daikon or Chinese white radish, and in Indian cuisine, it's called "mooli." If you can't find white radish at your local grocery store, try visiting a local Asian food store - most carry multiple varieties.

Not only is moo gook delicious and made with inexpensive ingredients, it's an excellent source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C, potassium, and copper. It also contains significant amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6 - not bad for a soup that's built around a humble white radish.

Moo Gook Recipe

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

White radish (also called moo, daikon, mooli, and Chinese white radish) - about 7 ounces/200 grams
3 cups vegetable broth or water
Soy sauce
2-3 green onions (scallion), sliced
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (about half a tablespoon)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Large handful of bean sprouts (optional)

Directions:

1. Slice white radish into bite-size pieces - about 1-inch squares is typical for most authentic versions of moo gook.

2. In a medium size pot, saute radish pieces in sesame oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes - be sure to stir regularly. If you enjoy spicy foods, you can add a pinch of red pepper powder while you're stir-frying the radish. Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic as radish is stir-frying.

3. Add 3 cups of vegetable broth or water (vegetable broth imparts additional flavor to moo gook) to the radish, bring to a boil, then lower heat until soup is simmering, cover with a lid, and let it sit for about 7-10 minutes, or until the radish is nice and tender. The hallmark of authentic moo gook is tender radish, so be sure that you let it cook until it's nice and tender!

Note: If you enjoy bean sprouts, add them just when the soup reaches a boil.

4. Add green onions, cover and let simmer for another minute or two.

5. Add soy sauce to suit your taste. It's fine to substitute sea salt for soy sauce, but soy sauce adds more flavor.

Koreans typically enjoy moo gook with a bowl of rice and a number of side vegetable dishes. But moo gook is so good that you can enjoy it on its own, or with a small bowl of rice. Personally, I enjoy adding freshly cooked rice to moo gook and eating it like a stew.

Moo gook that's properly made will look somewhat clear, like a bowl of chicken soup.

Strangely, moo gook is a traditional Korean dish that isn't typically offered at Korean restaurants, so if you want to experience this delicious and nourishing soup, you'll have to give this recipe a try in your own kitchen...or find a Korean friend who can make it for you. :)

Addendum on November 23, 2008:

My mom would like to add that moo gook is traditionally made with chicken broth, so please feel free to substitute the vegetable broth or water in this recipe with chicken broth.

Here's a look at a bowl of moo gook from a batch that Margaret (my wife) made last night:

Moo GookMoo Gook

Margaret used sea salt instead of soy sauce, and added some ground black pepper for a little heat. Between the two of us and our two boys, a big pot didn't last but half an hour. :)

 
 

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