Sunday, October 18, 2020

[Food] Olchaengi Guksu (올챙이국수, Tadpole Noodles)


[Food] Olchaengi Guksu (올챙이국수, Tadpole Noodles)

The Korean peninsular is a very fertile land full of rivers, plains and mountains so its main industry has been agriculture from ancient times. People planted and harvested many kinds of grains including rice, barley and so on. However, some towns located between mountains couldn't farm rice because of a lack of plain. So they usually ate corn, wheat, buckwheat, potato and sweet potato instead of rice and grain.

Olchaengi Guksu (올챙이국수, Tadpole Noodles) is the result of such an environment and culture. It's made of corn starch (NOT real tadpoles!!) and is named because of the shape of its noodle, which really looks like a big and fat yellow tadpole.

For people living in cities between mountains such as in Jeongseon, Yeongwol and Pyeongchang (Gangwon province) and in Muju (Jeonbuk province), olchaengi guksu was a very common meal for gaining basic energy from carbohydrates like potato, sweet potato and buckwheat.

They put corn kernels into a stone grinder and heated them on medium heat to turn them into corn starch water that looks like corn porridge - a very muddy form. Then they were poured into a large bowl or bucket with many holes at the bottom and placed into a large water basin so that the corn starch could penetrate these holes and form corn droplets which look like a tadpole.

When the noodles are complete, make seasoning with soy sauce, chili powder, green chili, sesame and salt to mix thoroughly with the noodles. You can also pour mild doenjang (Korean bean paste) soup into them for a more savory taste, as in the above picture of olchaengi guksu :) Yes, it's very similar to the German Spätzle except for its main ingredients (Spätzle is made of wheat).

Even though it doesn't have much taste but has a plain, mild and indistinct flavor, people prefer to eat it as they reminisce of their childhood (certainly in the case of people who lived in a mountain village) or just out of curiosity :)

These are noodles but you cannot pick them up with chopsticks so you have to use a spoon to eat them:) You can easily find them in Jeongseon, Yeongwol, Pyeongchang and Muju :)

Bon Appétit!

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