These days, traditional dishes are fast losing their seasonal characteristics. The reason is simple: we can get this kind of produce year-round. Still, you can easily find bean soup on the tables of many Jeju Islanders’ in the winter months.
On the face of it, bean soup seems very plain. It almost doesn’t register on our radar. And yet, for older generations of Jeju citizens, it is something not to be missed during the winter. This is probably because beans are filling and the soup is warming in the cold and windy weather. It’s also easy to farm the beans and store them in powder form.
In addition, other produce like Korean cabbage and radish are also ingredients you can get all-year-round. But in winter they are extraordinarily sweet and delicious. Like many other Jeju traditional foods, bean soup is easy to make and can be enjoyed after a half an hour or less of preparation.
All you need are raw powdered beans, radish, Korean cabbage and bay salt.
Here’s how to prepare this dish. First, put some water in bean powder and stir into a thick mixture. Cut the radish into thin strips, and roughly tear or chop the Korean cabbage into bite-sized or spoon-sized pieces.
Once the water is boiling over medium high heat, add the sliced radish. When the mixture reaches a boil yet again, add the prepared cabbage and slowly drip the bean mixture into the broth to ensure it spreads evenly.
Next, sprinkle some salt into the broth and the bean powder will then partly coagulate on the surface. Lastly, but most importantly, lower the heat so that the coagulated bean powder doesn’t boil over the edge of the pot. The dish will be ready to serve in 10 minutes.
Bean soup reminds me of Jeju Island when it is covered with snow and exudes a white-yellow color. Its flavor is both aromatic and plain. It can be served on its own, since it is filling enough for a meal.
As I mentioned, bean soup is a very authentic winter dish for Jeju natives who have lived simply. However, it is less known to visitors and tourists to the island, as you can rarely find it on restaurant menus.
Try cooking it for yourself, as it is as simple and quick to make as most other Jeju traditional dishes.
You can easily get raw powdered beans in traditional markets like Dongmun Traditional Market or the Five-day Market. And don’t forget to check whether it is made here on Jeju or imported from somewhere else, since the flavor may differ greatly.