Despite the enduring summerlike weather, co-workers at both of my jobs have been calling in sick like any other turn of the season, and this week, I was finally taken out myself. It’s strange to find oneself relieved to have fallen ill … or is it? Finally, a socially acceptable excuse to do nothing. Sometimes that’s what it takes. It’s also an excellent excuse to order yourself a large tub of soup!
As a lifelong Lansing resident, Korea House on Trowbridge Road has been a mainstay for me. Its menu offers a huge variety, from Korean classics like bulgogi and bibimbap to sushi, noodle dishes and soups. I chose a familiar favorite of mine, yukgaejang, a spicy, brothy soup with shredded flank steak, green onions and cellophane noodles.
My order included a huge container of soup, a side of rice and a number of banchan, which were a welcome surprise. Banchan are the little side dishes that accompany your meal in a Korean restaurant, and I was delighted to find that this extends to Korea House’s takeout. With banchan, you never know exactly what you’re going to get. My selections were a slightly sweet, vinegary potato salad; bean sprouts; and, of course, kimchi.
I promptly dumped the kimchi and sprouts atop my soup, added some rice to soak up the broth and got to work, my sinuses clearing with the first inhale of fragrant soup steam. The broth was beefy but not too rich and was equally balanced in its garlicky and faintly smoky spice. Long strands of still-lively green onion swirled around hearty pieces of shredded beef, and lurking beneath was what tied it all together.
Cellophane noodles are made from sweet potato starch, making them extremely light, semi-gelatinous and what can only be described as “sproingy.” Imagine a dangling slinky made from savory Jell-O. If I’m making them sound unappetizing, I’m doing them a disservice. The texture is addictive! Swirling them around your chopsticks and then giving them a final broth dunk is easily the best part of the yukgaejang experience.
I had more than enough food to put together a couple of meals, making this order ideal for feeding myself on a sick day, especially since each round prompted a lengthy and healing nap. But please, don’t be like me and wait until you’ve fallen ill. Treat yourself to a piping-hot, spicy soup today!
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