My sister’s last lunch before she flies back to Canada was at a small, aged restaurant near my father’s workplace. My dad has been a regular at Sorong-gol Sikdang (소롱골식당) for more than a decade and today he wants both me and my sister to try a unique dish that only Soronggol has to offer – a hot pot with beef ribs and soybean puree.
The official name of the hot pot is kong-galbi-tang (콩갈비탕: beans & beef ribs soup) and I have never seen anything like this before. I have tasted and fell in love with kongbiji soup which is made with pureed soybean and kimchi. But making a soybean soup with galbi (beef ribs) was something very new to me.
When the big pot of bubbling kong-galbi-tang has arrived, the first impression was that it looked bland. I was used to seeing spicy biji soups where a handful of chopped kimchi is added to turn the color of pureed beans from yellowish-white to pink. Just by looking at the thick, boiling soup I became curious to find out how they had seasoned the bean puree without kimchi or any other stimulating spice.
The answer was hiding among dozens of neat side dishes. A yangnyeom ganjang (양념간장: seasoned soy sauce) is provided for those who wish to season their bowl of pureed tofu. I personally prefer adding just a tad since the tofu soup itself was quite flavorful without any soy sauce. The nutty and savory pureed beans combined with the broth from the beef ribs are heavenly good that you would not need much else to make it better.
The owner recommended us a unique rice wine that paired perfectly with our hot pot. The traditional Korean wine made in neighboring city of Gongju, ChungCheong-do, is no ordinary rice wine as it is made with chestnuts. I have never had a chestnut rice wine but it tasted a bit too sweet for my tongue. It felt almost like a cocktail than a rice wine. The owner explained that ladies often prefer the drink for its flavor and pretty color of yellow. Makes sense.