Recipe: Mook Bap (묵밥)

Summer is thankfully winding down but there's still just enough smidgen of heat during the day that I'm finding myself seeking something cooler in the evenings.

Mook is a type of jelly most commonly dressed with a soy sauce-based dressing with other veggies and served as a side dish or even as a dish to go with drinks. It can be made from a variety of different ingredients as its base, including mung beans, buckwheat and even acorns.

But a lesser common way of eating mook is in a chilled and savory/tangy dish called mook bap or "mook rice". It's less common to see mook bap being served in regular restaurants but they are easily spotted in eat spots near mountains as mountain climbers and hikers especially love to partake in a bowl with some makgeolli after a day of climbing.

Mook bap is great to eat during warmer weathers as it requires very minimum stove use and can be made quickly. The inclusion of veggies and toppings of your choices aids in providing an excellent source of nutrients.

For vegetarians, if you have dongchimi (chilled water radish kimchi) or a broth based on it, simply check to make sure it's not meat-based and swap it for the nengmyun broth (which is often meat-based). Same things goes for the kimchi; make sure there's no seafood in it for this dish if you're strictly vegean.

Mook Bap (묵밥)
Makes 2 servings

You'll need:
- 1 package of Mook 
- 1/2 a Carrot
- 1/2 a Cucumber (or Bell Pepper)
- 5 or 6 Perilla Leaves
- 1 cup of fermented Kimchi
- 1 tbsp of Sugar 
- 1 tsp of Sesame Oil
- 3 sheets of crushed Gim (Dried Laver)
- 1 340 ml packet of Nengmyun Broth (냉면육수)
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked Rice (can be cold, leftover rice) 
- A bit of toasted Sesame Seeds for garnish 

For the Broth:
- 3 cups of Water
- 1 Green Onion stalk 
- 6-8 Anchovies (for broth use)
- 5 pieces of Dashima (dried kelp) 

1. Begin by making the simple broth. Fill a small pot with the water, the green onion stalks (cut into 2-3 inch pieces), the dried kelp and dried anchovies (head and guts removed) and bring it to a boil for about 8-10 minutes. After boiling, discard the broth making ingredients and then set aside the broth to cool. Put the nengmyun broth in the freezer to help get your mook bap extra cold.

The addition of the broth to the nengmyun broth later helps boost flavor for the dish but if you're feeling entirely lazy you can forego making and adding this broth altogether. Just up the amount of nengmyun broth later and taste and season as needed.

Simple broth making

2. Get chopping as you slice your perilla leaves into strips and then julienne your cucumber and carrot. After chopping your kimchi, add the sugar and sesame oil and mix. For the mook, wash and drain the mook once and then slice into 2 inch by 1 inch rectangles. 

Chop, slice and dice

3. In a shallow but flat-panned bowl, add half of the rice to one side and then arrange half of the cut mook around. On top of the mook, add half of your cut veggies on each side and also some of your crushed laver. Do the same with the remaining mook, rice and veggies in your other serving dish. 

To both serving bowls, add to each half of the broth you made. 

4. Take out your Nengmyun Broth pack from the freezer and pour in each serving bowl half of the packet. It's ok if a bit of the broth comes out frozen as it makes the dish even chiller :)

Partially freezing the yooksoo is important!

4. Sprinkle a bit of toasted sesame seeds on top for garnish before serving.

To eat, mix it all up and enjoy :)

And just like with sweet/tangy nengmyung broth, mook bap goes well with marinated meat dishes such as bulgogi. Add a bottle of makgeolli to the mix and you'll have a nice relaxing evening meal, Korean-style.

I like the different textures, tastes and scents from the veggies, the rice, kimchi, etc and that it can be enjoyed as a light lunch or part of a bigger meal.

Try it out before the weather gets too cold!