Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor’s Korean Wedding Soup: Janchi Guksu

Photographs by Patrick Heagney
Photographs by Patrick Heagney

She was a Korean pop singer. He majored in biology and psychology at Georgia Southern. Today, Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor own Heirloom Market BBQ and Sobban, two restaurants where Far East flavors frequently merge with the South. They first met at the bygone Repast in the Old Fourth Ward. Romance followed, and eventually Lee was teaching Taylor her grandmother’s kimchi secrets, while Taylor was introducing her to the smoky barbecue and sweet potato soufflés of his youth. “Our best dishes, though, are the ones we cook together,” Lee says.

Among collards cooked in miso broth and spareribs rubbed with a fiery pepper paste called gochujang, one of their favorites is this spicy noodle soup traditionally served in Korea for weddings.

Janchi Guksu

1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
2 quarts organic vegetable broth
Vegetable scraps, including carrot tops and green onion stem ends
1 jalapeño, halved (optional)
1 cup each of carrots, daikon radish, summer squash, and asparagus tips or green beans, all julienned matchstick-size
3 eggs, separated
Canola or grapeseed oil
6 to 8 ounces somen noodles
½ cup green onions, shredded
½ cup herbs (sesame leaf, shiso leaf, cilantro, basil, and/or mint), shredded
½ cup nori (toast directly over an open flame), crumbled

To prepare: In a large pot over medium heat, steep the mushrooms in the broth for 15 to 20 minutes until reconstituted. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, squeeze dry, and julienne. Add vegetable scraps and the jalapeño to the broth and reduce heat to low; simmer.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and quickly saute the vegetables, one at a time, until tender-crisp. Season lightly with salt while cooking. Arrange in mounds on a platter, along with the mushrooms.

Separate eggs into two small bowls; gently whisk the whites and yolks and season each with a little salt. Add more oil to the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the whites, swirling to coat the skillet, cook just until set, and remove. Repeat with the yolks. Roll up each crepe and slice into julienne strips. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add somen noodles; cook until very tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander before rinsing under cold running water until the water runs clear.

To serve, place a baseball-sized mound of noodles in center of each bowl. Arrange small heaps of vegetables and egg strips, alternating colors, around the noodles. Remove the vegetables from the broth, and ladle broth over noodles. Garnish with more vegetables, green onions, herbs, and nori leaves. Serve alongside yangnyeomjang seasoning sauce and kimchi peaches or apples (see instructions below).

Makes 4 servings.

For Yangnyeomjang (seasoning sauce): In a small bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons of chopped green onions, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional), 1 tablespoon mirin or rice vinegar, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Makes 1/3 cup. Refrigerate until ready to use (may be made a day or two ahead).

For Jiyeon’s Kimchi Sauce: In a blender, puree 6 to 8 garlic cloves with 1/4 cup water, and pour into a large bowl; whisk in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 cup of coarse Korean red pepper flakes (also called gochugaru, found at Korean markets), 1/4 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1/2 tablespoon of  black pepper, and 1 1/2 cup more of water. Continue to whisk for about five to ten minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and refrigerate. Makes about 2 cups. Lee’s kimchi sauce mixes well with fruits and vegetables for condiments but also seasons soups and can work as a salad dressing (after whisking with oil and vinegar).

For the apples or peaches: Slice and toss three or four peaches or apples with 1 tablespoon of Jiyeon’s Kimchi Sauce to taste.

This article originally appeared in our September 2014 issue.