Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cool me, soothe me, cucumber soup

When I came back home from the farmer's market this past Saturday, I was hot, hungry, and tired. I was so tired that anything around me was irritating. It was too bad that I was extremely hungry too and had to feed myself and my companion. It is our rule that if we are too sick (physically and/or emotionally) then we don't cook food because the state of our body and mind gets reflected in the food. We were too tired to even consider going out for lunch, so I was stuck with cooking late lunch.
Dan suggested NaengMyun (냉면, literally a cold soup), but we were out of the dry noodles for making NaengMyun. Instead I made this variation of cold cucumber soup (오이냉국, Oee NangGuk) which my mom always made in the hot summer days when I was young.

Oee NaengGuk that my mom made always had cucumber, onion, and seaweeds. Add vinegar, sugar and salt to make it pleasantly sweet and sour. Being a Korean dish, my mom probably adds chopped fresh garlic too, but I don't use garlic here. I like using red onions for its pretty color and mild flavor. They add a nice layer of flavor and it is not too loud as garlic.
To make it a substantial dish, I added buckwheat noodle. It is the same kind that you use to make Japanese cold noodle soup with dashi and grated daikon. To finish up my variation of Oee NaengGuk with buckwheat noodle, I added a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a drop of dark sesame oil.

It is a simple dish, and cucumber takes the center stage in this dish. I picked up a Japanese variety of cucumber (Tasty Jade) from Rieko at the New Hope Farm stand. Jim at the Tomates etc. stand gave me a few small Japanese cucumbers too. Those cucumbers were perfect for this dish.

As I ate and drank the noodle soup, I felt better. It was refreshing and tasty. A little bit of the dish came from my past, and a little bit came from who I was now. After the lunch, I took a long deep nap which I really needed. And everything was good again.


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