Korean-Chinese Spicy Veggie Noodle Soup (Vegetarian version of "Jjambbong")

Korean-Chinese Spicy Veggie Noodle Soup recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

“I’m Malaysian.”

The response is usually a confused look.

“It’s a country next to Thailand,” I try to narrow the region down.

The response this time is a nod of general understanding.

But then I take it a step further, “Actually, I’m Malaysian-Chinese.”

Another nod, but this time the eye contact is with the floor. I’ve lost them.

Korean-Chinese Spicy Veggie Noodle Soup recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

My ancestors are from China. Along with millions of other Chinese, my ancestors were part of a wave of emigration to British Malaya in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Chinese emigration was not limited to Malaysia and not just to this time period.  Over the centuries, many nations in East and Southeast Asia – such as Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, and so on – experienced trade and emigration from China, and with it, significant cultural influences. 

This fusion of cultures can be seen in many Asian countries, but it is best experienced through taste.  Something that you have surely experienced already if you have eaten at a Thai or Vietnamese or Korean restaurant right here in the US.  Or even carried on if you stir-fry Asian dishes at home. 

Stir-frying is a Chinese cooking technique that spread throughout Asia.  When Chinese immigrants moved in, they found new flavors and ingredients to throw into the wok and stir-fry.  Many of these early experiments resulted in the iconic dishes we now associate with our favorite Asian cuisines like Thailand’s Pad Thai, Malaysia’s Char Koay Teow, and Korea’s Jjambbong.

vegetables for jambbong korean chinese noodle soup
infusing aromatics into hot oil
Korean-Chinese Spicy Veggie Noodle Soup recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Jjambbong, or jjamppong, is a hot and spicy seafood noodle soup in Korea.  It’s a classic example of the marrying of Chinese cooking techniques with Korean flavors. 

The noodle soup typically features seafood such as shrimp, clams, calamari, and mussels, along with heaps of mixed vegetables.  These abundant ingredients are enriched with a soup broth made of chicken, pork ribs, shrimp or anchovy.  But to start, the ingredients are first stir-fried in a wok, flavored with aromatic garlic, ginger, scallion, soy sauce, and the distinctively vibrant Korean Chili Flakes (Gochugaru 고추가루 ).

Korean Chili Flakes available at SeasonWithSpice.com

Because of the number of requests we receive for vegetarian recipes and for easy recipes for incorporating more veggies into your diet, I’m sharing my version of this Korean-Chinese Spicy Noodle Soup without seafood or a meaty broth.  You won’t even miss the meaty flavor when you create the soup broth with the combination of our Korean chili flakes and vegetable or mushroom broth. The outcome is a spicy, rich, creamy broth that you can make in a flash.

Shiitake Mushroom soup broth by SeasonWithSpice.com
Cooking spicy korean veggies soup

Steamy hot soup, chewy noodles, and freshly cooked crisp vegetables, flavored with the spicy, fruity, robust Korean chili pepper - this Korean-Chinese Veggie Noodle Soup warms you up, especially during this historic cold we’ve been struggling through this past week.

Spicy Korean-Chinese Vegetables Noodle Soup by SeasonWithSpice.com

buy korean chili flakes at SeasonWithSpice.com asian spice shop

Korean-Chinese Spicy Veggie Noodle Soup (Vegetarian version of Jambbong)
by Season with Spice
Serves 2

2 servings of fresh or dried udon noodles, or ramen noodles
2 cups of vegetable broth or mushroom broth
1 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp of vegetable oil 3-4 cloves of garlic – smashed or minced
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger – julienned
2-3 scallions – cut into 2 inch lengths (keep some for garnish)
1 tbsp of Season with Spice’s Korean Chili Flakes (Gochugaru)
1 tbsp of reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp of rice vinegar
Salt, to season

Vegetables (use all or a variation):
Half a small yellow onion – thinly sliced
1 carrot – thinly sliced
1/2 zucchini – thinly sliced
3-4 leaves of napa cabbage or bok choy – chopped
1/4 cup of sweet corn kernels
A small handful of sugar snap peas or snow peas
2-3 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms - thinly sliced

Quick note:
Before you begin cooking, you want to cut and prepare all the ingredients first, so they are ready and within reach.

1. In a soup pot, bring water to a boil and cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain well and rinse the noodles over cold water. Place half the noodles in each serving bowl, and set aside.
2. Using the same pot, combine vegetable/mushroom broth and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, and keep it at a simmer.
3. While the broth is simmering, heat a wok or a large frying pan over high heat. Once wok is hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add garlic and stir for a few seconds. Then add in ginger and the white part of the scallions. Cook over medium-low heat for a few more seconds to infuse the oil.
4. Turn heat back up to high, and stir in all the vegetables (including the green parts of the scallions), followed by the Korean chili flakes, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Cook until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat. Pour the prepared vegetable/mushroom broth into the wok to mix with the vegetables. Lightly season with salt and bring everything to a boil again. Taste and adjust seasoning.
5. Ladle the hot soup & vegetables over the noodles. Serve immediately. Garnish with leftover scallions.