Kong-guksu (콩국수) is a must-have for me on a scorching day… so Park House decided to serve the dish the other day! This noodles in a cold soup made of ground beans is one of the Korean seasonal dishes. Soybeans are the typical choice to make the liquid part (kong-mul, 콩물), but you might also see it in a dark colour form if black beans (seoritae, 서리태) are used.
I didn’t use to like kong-guksu when I was a child and personally it had always felt like the older generation’s favourite. Maybe I’ve finally entered that generation as I love it so much now… Yum!
Type of beans to make kong-guksu
When I first made kong-guksu in the UK last year, I had soybeans and mung beans kicking around in the cupboard as I had been in a frenzy of homegrown soybeans and making Korean mungbean fritters called bindaetteok (빈대떡), also known as nokdujeon (녹두전). So I used up those beans by soaking them overnight before cooking to make kong-guksu.
Kong-guksu made of soybeans and mung beans tastes fantastic but I wondered about an easier, cheaper and faster way to create it. It was possible to buy soybeans and mung beans online, but I wanted easy-to-source ingredients. Then I came up with the idea of using tinned chickpeas in water!
Chickpeas seem a lot more widely available in UK supermarkets to start. Plus, tinned chickpeas are so much more reasonable, in addition they don’t require overnight soaking! They ticked all the boxes to have a go at chickpea kong-guksu, so I call this recipe Easy-(chick)peasy kong-guksu. haha
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m also intrigued to try black bean (seoritae, 서리태) kong-guksu at some point. I bought a bag of black turtle beans when I bought two cans of Waitrose Essential Chick Peas in Water. As the black turtle beans are dried, overnight soaking is needed. Although this will make the cooking less easy-peasy, I’ll be able to share another recipe in a separate post!
Smooth v grainy kong-mul
Some people prefer smooth kong-guksu where they don’t taste much of the grainy texture of blended beans from kong-mul. I might’ve not yet tried the smooth kong-guksu full of flavours, but I think this rougher texture makes the dish more interesting! Reflecting my preference, therefore, this recipe will create a thick kong-mul base as I minimise adding water during blending. When (nearly) 100% chickpea kong-mul base is made, I then add water and salt to loosen the thickness and season it to my liking, preventing diluted kong-mul from blending. I find this way easier to customise the dish as well.
To minimise the prep and cooking time, I only used cucumber sticks and black sesame seeds as my toppings here. However, if you have boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes, they’re popular extras as well!
Park House Recipe: easy-(chick)peasy kong-guksu
As I’ve hinted here and there, this recipe below isn’t going to be precise. I hope this doesn’t put you off trying it though, as I think it really is flexible and you can adjust the kong-mul texture and flavour as you like!
Kong-guksu (with tinned chickpeas in water)
- Blender (alternatively, mini chopper)
- 1 Tinned chickpeas in water (I used Waitrose Essential Chick Peas in Water (drained 240g).)
- Fine sea salt
- 200 g Somyeon or Jungmyeon (thin or regular wheat noodles)
- (Black) sesame seeds
- Cucumber (sliced to thin match stick shape)
- Ice cubes ((optional))
- Follow the instructions on the tin to heat chickpeas. For example, Waitrose Essential Chick Peas in Water suggests heating the contents gently for 3-4 minutes in a saucepan.
- Separate them from the heated water to cool a little bit. Keep the chickpea water aside.
- Pour the chickpeas into a blender/mini chopper and grind them until they become granular. Add the chickpea water if it sounds too dry during blending.– If you're making 1 portion of kong-guksu, keep half of the ground chickpea base in the fridge/freezer.
- Add cold water and salt to the chickpea base and stir well to make kong-mul.– The amount of water depends on how thick/smooth kong-mul you like and if you'll add ice cubes at the end. Generally, I suggest the slightly thicker end of things, as the cooked noodles will still contain some water after draining.– Start with a small pinch of salt, gradually adding more as you taste the kong-mul.
Cooking noodles and toppings
- Follow the instructions on the packaging of your choice of noodles to cook them. For example, Ottogi's Wheat Noodle Regular Round (Jungmyeon, 오뚜기 옛날 국수 중면) suggests cooking them in boiling water for 4-5 minutes in a saucepan.
- Put the cooked noodles in a sieve and gently rub them under cold running water until they're not hot anymore. Drain, halve and transfer them onto pasta bowls for serving.
- Cut the rinsed cumber into long (roughly 5cm) and thin slices like matchsticks, and put them aside.
- Top the noodles off with cucumber sticks.
- Pour the kong-mul around the noodles and sprinkle (black) sesame seeds on top.
- Place ice cubes around the noodles, if you want the dish extra cold.
- If you’re making 1 portion of kong-guksu, keep half of the ground chickpea base in the fridge/freezer, before mixing it with cold water and salt.
- I didn’t specify the amount of water, as it depends on how thick/smooth kong-mul you’d like and if you’ll add ice cubes at the end. Generally, I suggest the slightly thicker end of things, as the cooked noodles will contain some water even after draining.
- I recommend having a small pinch of salt to start, gradually adding extra as you taste the kong-mul.
- You can always add more cold water and salt after everything is put together (which is what I did), if your kong-guksu looks like it doesn’t have much soup part or tastes bland!
- Keep an eye on the saucepan when cooking the noodles as it might boil over!
- There’s no set amount for cucumber and (black) sesame seeds. Add as much as you like for topping!