There is a dish called Soojebi (수제비) in Korea. It is a humble soup-like dish made with simple flour dumplings. Some soojebi has chicken, some has sea food or kimchi along with potato and zucchini. The dumpling itself is made with plain flour, salt and water. Quite simple and humble.
I don’t think I had soojebi that often when I was growing up in Korea. Mainly because…, my father hated it. He hated it because he ate it so often and so much as he was growing up in the 40’s and 50’s when Korea was considered one of the poorest country in the world. Back then soojebi was one of the cheapest dish that people can afford to make to feed the starving family members. The soojebi he ate as he was growing up is not like this one on the photo. It was a humbly made soup with very little or hardly no protein in it.
My father prohibited my mother to make soojebi. I guess he didn’t want to recall his “always-hungry” childhood.
On top of that, my mother, who grew up in a wealthier family than my father’s, didn’t like soojebi that much either. Her excuse was that she didn’t like the raw flour taste from the dumplings. I could understand why.
I made soojebi the other day. It is much more upgraded version than the one my father used to eat. I also made dumplings in a different way. I added mashed potato in the flour mixture to minimize the raw flour taste. The inspiration came from the Italian gnocchi dough.
I put chicken pieces, onion, whole garlic (cut in half), and celery, and some salt in a large pot with 6 cups of water. This need to be simmered for about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, let’s make potato dumplings. Combine flour, plain mashed potato, egg, and some salt in a mixing bowl.
Use a fork to mix everything first.
Then knead with your hand until it becomes a dough. Cover and let it chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
The stock looks good. Take the chicken out and discard the vegetables reserving the stock.
Shred the chicken with a fork and set aside.
Now return the chicken to the stock pot along with carrot slices, and bring them to boil. When the stock start to boil, take a chunk off the dumpling dough, flatten slightly, and tear a bite size pieces from it. It doesn’t have to be uniform in size or shape. Try to work quickly. If you have extra hands to help you, that would be nice.
Oh, and don’t forget to add zucchini slices along with the dumplings. These dumplings will cook fast. When they float to the top, they are pretty much done. Season with salt and pepper, but the amount of seasoning depends on how you want to serve.
If you like to serve plain, season with salt and pepper according to your taste. But if you like the way Koreans eat, make a quick topping sauce to go with. Well, I guess I forgot to take a picture of the topping sauce, but it is super simple to make.
Mix Korean soy sauce for soup with some minced garlic. chopped green onion, and sesame seeds. That’s it. You add a teaspoonful of the sauce or more according to your taste.
The potato dumpling is very tender yet pleasantly chewy. I don’t taste the raw flavor of the flour in them. I think my mother would be very proud if I serve this to her.
A bowl of Soojebi tastes so much better when served with kimchi. It is simple comforting dish that many Koreans love EXCEPT my father.
I wonder if my father would enjoy my upgraded version of soojebi since I tweaked the dumpling part of the dish, and telling him this would be the Italian dumpling soup made with gnocchi. I am sure he would take it just fine. But he passed away many years ago and I guess I will never have a chance to change his mind on soojebi. I miss him everyday.
- 2-1/2 lb (1.2 kg) bone-in chicken pieces
- 1 onion, cut in half
- 1 whole garlic, cut in half
- 2 celery stalks
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups flour
- 1-1/2 cups plain mashed potatoes
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large carrot sliced into thick matchsticks
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon Korean soy sauce for soup
- 1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- In a large pot, put chicken pieces, onion, garlic, celery, and pour 6 cups of water. Bring them to boil, and simmer for 40-45 minutes.
- Meanwhile make the dumpling. Combine flour, mashed potatoes, egg, and salt in a mixing bowl. Using a fork, break the egg yoke and start incorporating with the flour and potatoes. Knead with your hand until it turns into dough, about 2-3 minutes. Cover and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
- When the stock is done, remove the chicken and let it cool. Discard the vegetables reserving the stock in a pot. Shred the chicken and return to the stock pot. Add the carrot slices and bring them to boil. Add the zucchini slices.
- Take the dough out from the fridge. Take a chunk off the dough and slightly flatten it with your hand. Tear bit size pieces off from the chunk and drop them into the stock. The dumpling doesn't have to be uniform in shapes and sizes. Try to work fast. When they are done, they will float to the top.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper according to your taste if you want to serve as is.
- If you want to serve Korean style with the sauce, season the soup lightly with salt and pepper.
- Serve this soup warm with kimchi on the side.
- For the sauce, mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoonful of the sauce to the soup to season. Add more if needed.