13 April 2012

Clam and Radish Egg Drop Soup

"Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May."

I've been hearing this line going through my mind today, relishing the rain we're getting, but also soberly reflecting on the deeper message, that even though we may face gloomy skies (literally or figuratively) now and then, how good it is to keep up hope for the beauty that will come.  I tend not to share too personally in this space, but friends, I wanted to let you into what's been on my heart and mind the past couple days.  I hope you don't mind.

Life certainly throws you some surprises sometimes, doesn't it?  Like this cold rain-and-thunder-and-lightning storm that comes of the heels of a gloriously warm and sunny Easter weekend.  Or like the sudden illness that hospitalized my mother thousands of miles away from home yesterday.  Or like my brother being hit by a car as he was bicycling, also yesterday.  There are the happy, carefree days, and then there are the days when you realize how fragile life is and you just want to gather your loved ones together and thank God for them.

I'm so thankful today for the safety and health of my family.  And, I'm even more thankful that even if they weren't safe or healthy that things would still fundamentally be okay.  I'm reminded of something so comforting:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more... Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."


My father, or Papa, as I call him, has also been pretty under the weather, and with the storms going on outside--and in the life of our family--a soup, simple but nourishing, just felt like the right thing for him and for me.  I'd made this soup once before, as a variation on a Korean recipe I'd read, and I was so pleased with how it turned out that I made it again, this time to share with Papa.  He liked it, by the way.

It's so easy to make, the flavors and textures are clean and light, and it's quietly comforting.  At the base is a savory broth made from chicken broth, garlic, and clam juices.  And then there are chunks of daikon radish and tofu, delicate bite-sized clams, tasty green onion batons, and the flowery strands of egg-drop.  A delicious spoonful of flavors and textures every time.

I talked with my brother last night over the phone, anxiously trying to figure out the extent of his injuries.  While I was worried, he seemed up-beat, and then good news also came from the hospital that my mom could be discharged.  But overall it had been a bizarre and emotionally exhausting day.  Finishing dinner, I took some time, just sitting there at the table for a while in silence.  I'd already picked out all the goodies from my bowl of soup, so I sat there, looking at the warm broth, offering up silent prayers.  Then I lifted up my bowl and drank.  It was good.  And I'm looking forward to the flowers that will come.

Clam and Radish Egg Drop Soup
Makes 2-3 servings

1 1/2 cup daikon (or Korean radish, 무/mu) in 1/4-inch slices, cut into half-moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 (5 oz.) square tofu, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and then into bite-sized pieces
1 (6.5 oz.) can clams and their juice
2 Tbs. Korean soy sauce for soup (국간장/guk ganjang)
1 tsp. roasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

Place radish, garlic, broth, and water in a medium-large pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until radish is not quite fork tender.  Reduce heat and add tofu, the clams and their juices, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Stir gently and let tofu heat through, then slowly drizzle the egg into the hot soup.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  About a minute before serving, add the scallions and let them heat up just until they begin to wilt.  Serve soup with steamed rice and kimchi.


little daisy said...

I knew how you feel. Life certainly is full of surprises. I hope all your love ones will get better soon! ^_^

Debs @ The Spanish Wok said...

Oh I love this recipe, thanks.

Wishing you and your family well.

You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here all bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon. Different theme each month.

the Junkie book said...

Kudos, Erica this is a simply superb and so wonderfully and incredibly authentic a post!

And most of us bloggers are forever personal in this space. You're one of the few who's not!

Beautiful photographs and writing and recipe! If I had an fb page I would share it!

Check out the song posted in my blog. It may lift your spirits!

erica said...

thank you for your kind words, everyone! so thankful everyone in the family is doing better now. times like these really grow me in gratefulness! :)

Unknown said...

Hi erica - So glad to hear your mom and brother are doing better! Your mu guk looks absolutely delicious and healthy. And I love your bowls, spoon and chopsticks. Gorgeous photos!

Anonymous said...

Life is indeed fragile... I'm sorry your family got hit with so much all at the the same time, but I'm glad to hear that everyone's doing better. I've never seen a soup quite like this before and I'm curious as to the original you based it on. Also, LOVE your rice bowl! I looked for something similar when I was in Korea, but didn't find anything so nice.

erica said...

Hi Soyon--I was looking at a mu-guk and thought I'd add some clams. First time I made the soup, it felt like something was missing so I added a little chicken broth, and that was good. The egg drop added an extra something to bring all the disparate chunks of ingredients together. :)

For the rice bowl, I purchased it at http://www.kimshome.com/ in Los Angeles' K-town. I LOVE this bowl, as both the lid and the bowl are double-layered with an air pocket between the layers. It's insulated, keeping the rice warm and your hands from burning! I think you can find similar ones online, and they run about $10 apiece.

Anonymous said...

I know you're super busy what with finishing up your doctoral studies and all... just wanted to say I miss seeing your posts. Also, I've finally tried kale namul... so good! And as say they say in Korean, aja aja fighting! Hope your dissertation writing is going well!

P.S. When you finally have time, you HAVE to watch Rooftop Prince AND The King 2 Hearts, both so good in different ways.

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