70 percent of Korea is comprised of mountains, so it’s not surprising that hundreds of different kinds of edible plants, vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs are taken from the mountains and used in Korean cuisine. Many herbs are not only used for side dishes but medicine as well.
After a long winter, when every creature comes alive again and flowers are blooming, all the wild vegetables start to come out also. Ssuk is one of the most widely-used wild vegetables in Korean cuisine, and it has many medicinal uses as well. Young, tender mugwort leaves picked in the early spring are perfect time for mugwort soup.
- Place 12-13 small clams in a bowl. Add 1 cup of water and 1 ts salt and mix well. Soak for 1 hour to let the clams spit out any sand or mud.
- Wash and clean 3-4 cups of mugwort thoroughly by washing thoroughly and rinsing and draining in cold running water a couple of times. You may need to scrub it by hand to remove any residual dirt from between the leaves. Put it in a bowl and set aside
- Make anchovy stock:
- Put 6 cups of water into a pot.
- Add ½ cup’s worth of chopped onion (about ½ an onion) and 10 large dried anchovies (with guts and heads removed) to the pot.
- Boil for 20 minutes over high heat.
- Gently mix the mugwort with ¼ cup soy bean paste, 1 tbs flour, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and 2 tbs perilla seeds powder (optional).
- Strain the stock so it’s clear and a little brownish. Put it back in the pot and reheat it.
- Add the seasoned mugwort mixture to the boiling stock.
- Wash and drain the clams and put them into the soup.
- Cook 5-7 minutes more, then add chopped green or red chili pepper.
- Transfer the soup to a bowl and serve with rice and a few more side dishes,
My other mugwort recipe, mugwort rice cake (ssukbeomul) is here!