15-Minute Dried Pollock Soup (Bugeo-guk)
Dried pollock soup (bugeo-guk) is a well known light hangover soup served as a breakfast in Korea. Shredded dried pollock fish is simmered with soybean sprouts and tofu in a flavorful stock. It is a quick and easy soup to fix within 15 minutes.
Korea is notorious for their heavy drinking culture (which I am not fond of). Fortunately, my father was not keen on drinking as I recall.
However, every once in a blue moon, he drank a lot with his friends. A little bit of booze could make him unrestrained. So when he came home late at night totally drunk, I could easily predict what my mother would fix for breakfast next morning.
Without a doubt, my mother would cook this dried pollock soup called bugeo-guk (북어국) for him. It is a clear quick soup made with dried pollock fish and some vegetables. The soup is delicious, whether you are sober or not.
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What is dried pollock?
It comes from pollock fish (or pollack, 북어) caught in the deep Alaskan ocean that has been left to dry by the wind from the sea. When the fish is fully dried, it becomes feather-light and flaky.
Depending on the drying process used, it can be divided into either bugeo (북어) or hwangtae (황태). Most shredded form of packaged pollock is hwangtae, but you can use either kind for this recipe.
Light Korean hangover soup
Bugeo-guk is considered to be a detoxing soup in Korea, one people believe will cure the hangover from drinking. You will find many breakfast restaurants in Korea serving this pollock fish soup as a light hangover soup in the morning.
There are other types of hearty Korean hangover soups, too, but this pollock soup recipe is the easiest to fix as a quick homemade hangover remedy in the busy morning.
You know what the funny thing is?
My kids don’t like the Korean name of this soup (bugeo-guk, guk means soup) as a breakfast, because it sounds similar to what they (or you) imagine. They used to refuse to eat it because they believed I made with IT. LOL!
Let me reveal to you what really goes in this soup.
Ingredients and substitution
Dried shredded pollock is in the main cast, of course. You can find it easily in many Korean stores or purchase it online.
As for the supporting ingredients, try soybean sprouts, radish, tofu, potato, egg, or whatever else sounds suitable for soup.
- shredded pollock–You can buy it in any Korean or Asian markets. Or use online store to purchase.
- perilla oil or sesame oil—adds nutty fragrance to the soup
- garlic—savory ingredient
- soybean sprouts and/or tofu—or use radish, potato, beaten egg, etc, instead.
- Korean soup soy sauce & Korean salted shrimp—to season and add umami. Substitute with a little bit of fish sauce and salt.
- red chili & green onion—red chili is optional
My mother always added soybean sprouts when she made her soup, claiming that soybean sprouts are good for detoxing the alcohol remaining in the body. I love how it adds a delightful crunchiness, so I tend to follow her tradition.
If you don’t have soybean sprouts handy, try with Korean radish or potato. Some like to add beaten eggs at the end. It’s all up to personal preference.
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- Since it is such a light and clear soup, using a flavorful stock is crucial. Plain water won’t bring the deep umami taste. A quick anchovy sea kelp stock is commonly used as a soup base, and it takes only 5 minutes to make it from scratch.
- If you can find, I recommend using Korean perilla oil (deulgirum, 들기름). It adds a different kind of nutty fragrance than sesame oil, and makes the broth slightly milky (yet still clear). You can use sesame oil if you can’t find the perilla oil.
Make this soup if you have anyone who could use some relief from hangover or sickness. They will absolutely adore you… or at least the soup!
How to make Korean pollock soup (bugeo-guk)
Step 1. Make anchovy sea kelp stock.
Combine dried anchovies and dried sea kelp in water and bring it to boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Discard the anchovies and sea kelp and reserve the stock. Tear pollock in shreds if pieces are too long.
Step 2. Moisten dried pollock
In a bowl of water, plunge the shredded dried pollock, then take them out immediately. Squeeze out the excess water and set aside.
Step 3. heat pollock and add the stock
Heat oil in a soup pot over low heat. Add garlic and the shredded pollock. Toss to coat with oil and garlic for 1 minute. Pour the reserved stock to the pot and bring the soup to boil.
Step 4. Add soybean sprouts and tofu
Add the soybean sprouts and cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to med-low and cook for 5 minutes. Add tofu slices and heat through.
Step 5. Season and garnish
Season the soup with Korean soup soy sauce and Korean salted shrimp. Season further with salt if necessary. Lastly add the chili (optional) and chopped green onion. Stir. Serve the soup hot, with rice and kimchi.
Leftover storage tip
Store leftover soup in a container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. This soup will reheat well in the microwave or stovetop.
More Korean soup recipes
If you are looking for more comforting soup recipes, here are a few Korean soups that I recommend:
- Quick Korean Dumpling Soup (Mandu Guk)
- Healthy Seaweed Egg Drop Soup Recipe
- Korean Beef Radish Soup (Sogogi Muguk)
- Soybean Sprout Soup with Kimchi
- Korean Seaweed Soup With Tuna (Miyeokguk)
15-Minute Dried Pollock Soup (Bugeo-guk)
- 1 1/2 oz dried shredded pollock
- 1 tbsp perilla oil (deulgirum), or sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups anchovy sea kelp stock, recipe follows
- 7 oz soybean sprouts, cleaned
- 1/2 lb soft tofu, sliced
- 2 tsp Korean salted shrimp
- salt, to taste
- 1 red chili, sliced, optional
- 2 green onion, chopped
For the anchovy sea kelp stock
- Combine dried anchovies and dried sea kelp in water and bring it to boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Discard the anchovies and sea kelp and reserve the stock.
For the soup
- Heat oil in a soup pot over low heat. Add garlic and the shredded pollock. Toss to coat with oil and garlic for 1 minute. Pour the reserved stock to the pot and bring the soup to boil.
- Add the soybean sprouts and cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to med-low and cook for 5 minutes. Add tofu slices and heat through.
- Season the soup with Korean soup soy sauce and Korean salted shrimp. Season further with salt if necessary.
- Lastly add the chili (optional) and chopped green onion; stir. Serve the soup hot, with rice and kimchi.