Recipes

Mugwort soup

Ssukguk 쑥국

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.

Ingredients for 2 servings (cooking time: 30 minutes):
Mugwort, clams, dried anchovies, onion, soybean paste, flour, garlic, green or red chili pepper, perilla seeds powder

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. Strain the stock so it’s clear and a little brownish. Put it back in the pot and reheat it.
  6. Add the seasoned mugwort mixture to the boiling stock.
  7. Wash and drain the clams and put them into the soup.
  8. Cook 5-7 minutes more, then add chopped green or red chili pepper.
  9. 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!

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25 Comments:

  1. Kthaeh PA My profile page joined 5/14
    Posted May 3rd, 2014 at 7:30 am | # |

    Maangchi, these are such surprising recipes for me! We have so much mugwort in our backyard, and we have tried for years to get rid of it. It’s a terrible weed for us. I wish I had many Korean neighbors who would like to pick and eat it in the spring. That would be a great help for us. Mugwort is very aggressive and very difficult to control. I will try your recipes and maybe that will make me appreciate this plant, which I haven’t liked at all until now. If you ever want to visit Pennsylvania at this time of year, I promise to give you as much mugwort as you could possibly want. Organically grown too!

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted May 4th, 2014 at 12:20 pm | # |

      omg, I wish I would live near your house. I will clean your unwanted mugwort almost everyday. : )

      “We have tried for years to get rid of it.” I feel sorry for your mugwort! Did you know that mugwort also has medicinal uses? It’s also delicious and in the early spring is so tender than you can make soup, rice cake, or even pancakes with it.

      It gets tougher as it grows, but it can still be used. Cut and dry them, and hang them on the wall or put them in the living room in a basket. They will act as a natural air freshener. And whenever you take a bath, add some dried mugwort to the hot water in the tub. You will feel very refreshed.

      Yesterday I went to farmer’s market in New York and saw they were selling mugwort! Americans seem to know these precious herbs. They were selling it for $6 a pound! : )

      • Kthaeh PA My profile page joined 5/14
        Posted May 8th, 2014 at 7:16 am | # |

        Oh, Maangchi, you don’t need to feel sorry for our mugwort! It is definitely winning every battle. It grows so quickly that we cannot keep it out of the areas where we try to grow other vegetables.

        I did know of mugwort as a medicinal herb. I understood that it was not good for pregnant women, but otherwise good for women’s health. It does have a very nice smell. My husband has always disliked this plant too, but now he says he is willing to try the rice cake if I prepare it for him. I will let you know if I succeed.

        Maangchi, we are not so very far from NYC. I would be happy to bring you some mugwort in June. We are coming to the city just for the day on the 10th. There is a bus that leaves from right near our house and goes to Port Authority in less than 2 hours. You could also take the bus to visit us, see our large garden, and take home all the mugwort you could ever want!

  2. tante.francine@gmail.com Falls Church, VA My profile page joined 11/11
    Posted April 19th, 2012 at 7:06 am | # |

    For those of you who wants to plant mugwort, beware! After a lot of digging in the back yard because of renovation of my house, some dormant seeds of mugwort came up and grew. I did not know what they were. They were pretty, looking like chrysanthemum leaves. I let it grow, since I wanted to see the flowers. Wrong move! Pretty soon the whole back yard was full with mugworts, wall to wall. I used all kinds of ways to kill them, even all kinds of herbicides, including Round-up (5x) that a neighbor, who was working at a nursery then, prayed them for me. Then the family moved, the mugworts still in my back yard. Finally I looked in the Internet, and found Lontrel, that unfortunately a non professional cannot buy. The smallest size was a quart bottle. It cost $120.00 at that time. I bought it through my rose club that I belong to. I wore goggles, protective herbicide clothing that covered me from head to toes, mask for my breathing, and armed with a prayer I carefully sprayed the leaves very early in the morning, when it was not windy, careful not to spray the soil, since I did not want to contaminate my soil. It worked. The next year the mugwort did not come up, their roots were black. Mugwort has very long soft roots. If you break them, more plants grow. So beware. They are all over the place, I went to China last year, I saw them there too. I did not know I could have harvested them and eat them!–Missed my chance, but no, thank you, I am NOT growing them again. Sometimes a few come up again, and I immediately pull them, including the roots.

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted April 19th, 2012 at 2:04 pm | # |

      Thank you for sharing your funny story! It reminds me of the movie The Terminator. : )
      Yes, ssuk is very strong… My reader Ina is growing ssuk in her garden. I hope she is ok with her ssuk.

  3. Ina Maryland,USA My profile page I'm a fan! joined 10/08
    Posted April 17th, 2012 at 5:30 am | # |

    Unni,This soup looks so delicious can’t wait to try it.I just picked some mug wort this morning on the side walk down the street from my house.. ;-))

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted April 19th, 2012 at 2:05 pm | # |

      ; ) delicious soup! I kept saying “delicious, delicious, good flavor” while I was eating the soup.

  4. Andrew Wellington, New Zealand My profile page joined 4/11
    Posted April 14th, 2011 at 2:23 am | # |

    Oh Maangchi… In New Zealand our seasons are opposite to yours. I’m always sad to wait 6 months to try the seasonal recipes.

    Question: How is mungwort used in traditional Korean medicine? What are the traditional health benefits?

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  5. jenni0503 My profile page joined 1/09
    Posted April 12th, 2011 at 5:10 pm | # |

    Would substituting chicken be just as delicious? My daughter has a shellfish allergy (not to fish though) and loves when I make korean soups for her.

  6. sirdanilot Terneuzen, The Netherlands My profile page joined 10/09
    Posted April 12th, 2011 at 4:35 pm | # |

    Now I want to know if this plant grows in the wild here in Holland or not ! I love collecting wild plants, fruits and nuts. It’s natural, fun to do and it’s free !

  7. oksipak California My profile page joined 1/11
    Posted April 11th, 2011 at 9:45 am | # |

    Got a seed pack of Mugwort so I’m going to plant it this spring, by summer maybe I’ll have enough of the plant to try this wonderful looking recipe. :)

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted April 12th, 2011 at 9:59 am | # |

      I didn’t know you could buy mugwort seeds!

      • oksipak California My profile page joined 1/11
        Posted April 12th, 2011 at 10:31 pm | # |

        I didn’t know either but the Internet is one of my “virtual” best friends so found the seed at Kitazawa Seed Co., it’s labeled “Japanese Mugwort” known as Yomogi, kui ho. Took my chances in growing Asian vegetables this season from seed packs. Wish me luck. :)

  8. jimin Oakville, Ontario . Canada My profile page joined 9/08
    Posted April 10th, 2011 at 9:54 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi. I have a comment/question from my mother. She is asking why you don’t use the heads of the dried anchovies? She said that there is so much flavour in the head and cheeks that you should be using that as well. Any comments?

    Jimin

    • Soju123 New York, NY My profile page I'm a fan! joined 3/11
      Posted April 11th, 2011 at 10:24 am | # |

      I think she does use the heads– you can see them in the video here when she’s making stock. She just removes the guts.

      • jimin Oakville, Ontario . Canada My profile page joined 9/08
        Posted April 11th, 2011 at 6:54 pm | # |

        You are so right. It was an oversight on our part. Thank you.

  9. Soju123 New York, NY My profile page I'm a fan! joined 3/11
    Posted April 8th, 2011 at 3:47 pm | # |

    The soup looks so satisfying! I will have to try it with store-bought mugwort until I get comfortable picking my own. But I love that you got your mugwort and wild onions straight from mother nature! What a great way to celebrate spring.

  10. gimmesahm Portland, OR My profile page joined 6/10
    Posted April 8th, 2011 at 2:32 pm | # |

    yum maangchi! thank you for sharing.

    btw, did you know that you can get clams clean using cornmeal? i live in the pacific northwest and go clam digging a lot. we put about 1/2 c of cornmeal in water w/the clams and it helps flush out all the sand and grit from the shells.

    i hope this helps. happy cooking!

  11. safiboomting london My profile page joined 2/11
    Posted April 8th, 2011 at 1:47 pm | # |

    WOW looks very tasty might try that !!


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