Dak Kalguksu is a popular Korean comfort food – a warm bowl of chicken broth with chewy noodles, perfect for a cold day to warm you up or a hot day to let you sweat it out.
What is dak kalguksu?
Dak = chicken
Kal guksu = knife noodles
This is the literal translation. The noodles are referred to as “knife noodles” because when handmade, the dough is rolled out and cut with a knife to make the long flat strands. In this variation today, the broth is made out of chicken but there are many popular variations out there like seafood or clam.
I made this dish at the end of the summer when DrJuh got pretty sick with the summer cold. My mom used to make this delicious bowl of hot chicken broth that was rich but also light and refreshing at the same time with chewy noodles. The best part was plopping a bit of the sauce in to the bowl and slurping up a bit of the noodles, broth and sauce all together. After scouring the internet for famous celebrity recipe, I gave her a call to get the secrets. Usually it’s hard to get accurate recipes from her because she does a lot with her “feel” or with the “a handful” of something as her recipe. But this is so simple that even her approximation made it easy to follow.
I used the base of celebrity chef Baek Jong Won’s kalguksu recipe and added my mom’s twist to it like adding cabbage to bring a lighter refreshing flavor to the rich chicken broth. She also adds in the onion to the broth half way through the broth making process to bring out the flavors of the radish first. Mom’s little tricks that Baek Jong Won’s quick-recipes don’t entail but I find worth incorporating.
The zucchini topping is one that my mom doesn’t stir-fry but I found it to be a nice touch. This is optional though if you are feeling lazy. At times, I just add in julienned zucchini at the end before serving just to get the zucchini softened enough without having to bring out the frypan! It won’t make or break your bowl of noodles.
Ah, the noodles. Making the noodles is fun but buying the packaged noodles is equally delicious. Maybe once my skills at making the noodles get better they will be more delicious then buying but right now, the packaged goods are actually probably better but the novelty of making my own noodles makes me a bit more proud!
Enjoy my favorite – my mom’s – chicken dak kalguksu that we have here today!
Dak Kalguksu (Korean Chicken Noodle Soup)
- 10 oz Korean radish cut into ½-1 inch slices
- 4-5 leaves cabbage
- 8 garlic cloves
- 2 green onion stalks
- 2 lbs chicken with bones (chicken thigh, whole chicken cleaned)
- 8 cups water
- ½ onion
- 1 tsp salt optional
- ½ Tbsp maesil optional
Topping - Optional
- 1 zucchini julienned
- ½ Tbsp minced garlic
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp vinegar optional*
- 1 tsp gochugaru Korean red pepper flakes
- 1 green onion finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp garlic minced
Noodles - Option 1
- Package kalguksu - Korean flour noodles flat and thick
Noodles - Option 2
- 3 - 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- Place the radish and cabbage leaves on the bottom of a large pot. Add in the chicken, garlic cloves, and green onion stalks. Pour about 8 cups of water into the pot.
- Bring the pot to a boil on medium high heat and continue to simmer (covered) for 20 minutes.
- Add in the ½ onion, and bring the stove to medium low heat and continue to simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Add in more water if the water reduces too much.
- Remove and toss out the cabbage, garlic cloves, green onion stalk and onion.
- Remove the radish and cut into large pieces. Remove the chicken, and shred the chicken into small pieces. Set aside.
- Skim off any of the excess fat floating on top of the broth.
- Optional - Add 1 tsp salt and ½ Tbsp maesil to the broth and stir.
- Julienne the zucchini. Pre-heat a frying pan on medium heat with oil. Add in ½ Tbsp minced garlic and lightly stir-fry for 1 minute. Add in the zucchini and stir-fry until soft. Set aside.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
Noodles: Option 1 Packaged
- In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and add the noodles. Stir around briefly and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or according to the package until the noodles are cooked through. Remove the noodles with a strainer.
- Tip: Do not boil straight into the broth from the beginning because there is often additional flour on the noodles that will make the broth starchy.
Noodles: Option 2 Homemade
- Mix the flour, salt, oil and water until the dough comes together. Continue to knead with the palm of your hand for about 10 minutes, until the dough becomes stiff.*Start with 3 cups of flour. If the dough continues to be sticky, add in about 1 Tbsp of flour slowly.
- Cover the dough with a kitchen towel or plastic and allow it to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes.*You can make the dough up to a day ahead. If so, refrigerate the dough and bring to room temperature before using.
- Divide the dough in two. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into about 12 x 14 inch. Fold the dough 3-4 times into layers. For each layer, put a thin layer of flour so that the layers do not stick to each other.
- Cut the dough into about ¼ inch slices. Unfold the noodles and flour them lightly to keep the noodles from sticking to each other.