Sukjunamul Guk, Kongnamul Guk, Korean Bean Sprout Soup Recipe- Easy, Allergy Friendly, and Delicious

You know what the problem with frugal recipes are? Different things cost different amounts in different places, so what might be a super frugal recipe for someone might not be so frugal. This recipe is one example of one that is practically free for me, but for someone else may be more expensive. But either way, it is tasty, and people need to figure out what recipes work with them with what they have available, and not just assume that something is frugal because it comes from a frugal website.

Anyhow, this recipe is from Korea and I'm not 100% sure what it's called, because as far as I know this bean sprout soup is usually made with soy bean sprouts, called kongnamul guk, with kongnamul meaning soy bean sprouts, but my recipe was made with mung bean sprouts, which are called sukjunamul. However, I looked all over the internet and couldn't find any results for sukjunamul guk which leads me to believe that this should be called soybean sprout soup (kongnamul guk) even when made with mung bean sprouts (sukjunamul). For those who don't care about linguistics or what things are called, apologies for the aforementioned paragraph, but I just had to explain that after I got so confused when trying to figure out names of different things.

So, in Korea, this soup is commonly eaten as a hangover remedy, or even as a light side dish for any meal. I'm pretty sure this is meant to be eaten hot, but I had it cold as well and it is just as delicious.

While you can make this vegan, like with a kombu and soy sauce broth, the traditional way is with anchovy broth or beef broth. And that's where I get to the whole "what is dirt cheap for me may not be cheap for you".
 The reason this is so is because a while back I got a few cases of canned anchovies for free, and I've been making my way slowly through them, especially since my kids refuse to eat anything that has anchovies in it. I then grew my own bean sprouts (finally got it right so it tastes like the store bought stuff, more on that in another post), and since that is the bulk of this recipe, anchovies I got free and bean sprouts I grew myself (so its very cheap), this recipe costs me nearly nothing.
I used 2 1.5 oz cans of anchovy fillets, which according to the Walmart website prices, would cost approximately $4 in the US, and the equivalent locally would cost $2.30, but as I got mine free that costs me nothing. Bean sprouts for a package here cost about $1.50 (and according to google most stores don't even sell bean sprouts in the US anymore fresh so I can't find information on the internet to price compare) and you use about 3/4 of a package, so this would cost people anywhere between $3.30 and $5 for this recipe, which still isn't expensive but isn't as cheap as mine that cost me less than 15 cents.
However, if you don't have anchovies or want to use something cheaper, you can make a broth with kombu and soy sauce, or beef broth from cooking, or even vegetable broth.

To be honest, I was a little wary making anchovy broth using canned anchovies, since the recipes I saw said to use dried anchovies, and I wasn't sure how that would affect things. I also was worried I'd end up with an overly fishy broth, but oh my, the anchovy broth was so delicious that I want to use it for other things as well, and while it had a nice flavor, it wasn't overly fishy at all, just had a nice umaminess to it.

Another perk of this recipe is it is just so easy to make, in addition to being really cheap, its gluten free, and its pretty allergy friendly as well, and it can be made vegan too. Depending on you who ask, bean sprouts are usually considered paleo friendly as well, so this works for paleo diets. Basically, unless you're like my kids and abhor bean sprouts this recipe is for you. (And if you are like my kids, well then, more for me!)

Sukjunamul Guk, Kongnamul Guk, Korean Bean Sprout Soup Recipe- Easy, Allergy Friendly, and Delicious

2 45 gram (approximately 1.5 oz) cans of anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic
4 cups water
2 cups mung bean sprouts (or soy bean sprouts as in the traditional recipe)
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 scallion (you can use onion greens for this to make it even cheaper)
Hot pepper flakes (optional)

1. Strain the oil out of your anchovy fillets.

2. Chop up your garlic.

3. Add water to your anchovy fillets and garlic and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

4. Strain your liquid through a cheese cloth.

5. Add the now clear liquid back to the pot, ensuring that you have approximately 3 3/4 or 4 cups of broth.

6. Bring back to a boil.

7. Rinse your bean sprouts very well, then add them to your pot. Bring to a boil and cover for 4 minutes, making sure not to remove the cover until 4 minutes are up.

8. Taste the soup and add salt to taste, as well as the toasted sesame oil.

9. Garnish with scallions and hot pepper if using and serve.

Note, this soup can be served both hot or cold.
If making this vegan or otherwise fish free, make your broth following the same exact steps but simply using a 2 inch square of kombu in place of the anchovies. You may want to also add some soy sauce to taste.

Are you a fan of bean sprouts? Do you buy them? Do they sell them where you live or have they stopped because of liability reasons? If you buy them, is it usually soy bean or mung bean sprouts? How much do they cost? How about anchovies, how much do they cost where you live? How much would this cost you to make?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Thank you for this delicious recipe! Fantastic for when there's no soup stock on hand. I didn't bother straining the anchovy-garlic water, and I added tiny meatballs.

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