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LifestyleFood and Drink
Mugwort soupThis week's recipe: Ssukguk
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승인 2011.05.14  20:07:51
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▲ Photo by Kimberly Comeau

6 cups of water, 1 small white onion (chopped into chunks), 5-10 large anchovies (guts and heads removed)

Ingredients for soup
3 cups fresh mugwort, ¼ cup soybean paste, 2 tbsp perilla, 3 cloves garlic (minced), 10 small clams, 2 green or red peppers (chopped)

1. Add water, onion and anchovies to make stock and boil for 20 minutes. Strain and discard solid ingredients. You want a clear stock.

2. Add ¼ cup of boiling stock to your bean paste in a bowl and mix until you have a smooth consistency.

3. While waiting for the stock to cook, remove any brown dead leaves from the mugwort and then wash really well — slightly scrubbing the leaves clean.

4. Drain mugwort and gently squeeze the water out of the herb. Cut the stems off to about medium length so your soup isn’t stringy.

5. Add perilla flour to the mugwort. Mix very well with clean hands. Set aside.

6. Add clams to a bowl of fresh water and soak until they spit out all the sand.

7. Add mugwort mixture, soybean mixture, minced garlic and clams to the boiling stock.

8. Cover pot with lid and cook for 5-7 minutes until clam shells open up.

9. Skim brown foam off the top of the soup.

10. Add green or red pepper to soup when finished.

Makes two large bowls of soup
Artemisia vulgaris has many common names. In western parts of the world it is known as motherwort or mugwort, and it is called ssuk (pronounced: sook) in Korea. A. vulgaris is native to temperate Europe, Asia and North Africa but is present in North America where it is an invasive weed (1). It grows where the soil is nitrogenous — like on the side of the road.

In Korea, ssuk is commonly used in teas, pancakes and soups and is traditionally used as a natural medicine. The aerial parts (above ground) of A. vulgaris are used as an herbal medicine for antihelminth (expelling worms from the body), as an antiseptic (inhibits growth of microorganisms externally), anti-spasmodic (prevents seizures), and as a tonic for vital organs and various disorders including hepatosis (2). In traditional Chinese medicine mugwort has been used as an analgesic agent (pain killer), and, in conjunction with acupuncture therapy, to treat neonatal jaundice (yellowing of the skin of newborn babies), gastric ulcers, hepatitis and convulsive crisis (3).

There is supporting evidence that A. vulgaris contains phytochemicals that help improve hypertension (2), and have antioxidant properties which are correlated with oxidative stress defense and different human diseases (4). Mugwort also contributes estrogenic flavonoids which help with menopausal women (5).

Because mugwort is slightly toxic, pregnant or nursing women should avoid it.

Mugwort offers so many substantial health and medicinal benefits, while making a delicious addition to your plate and palate.
2. Characterization of antioxidant activity of extract from Artemisia vulgaris/ Abeer Temraz at al / Pak J Phar Sci Oct 2008;21(4):321-36l
3. Effects of an extract of Artemisia vulgaris L. (mugwort) on the in vitro labeling of red blood cells and plasma proteins with technetium-99m / Danielle Amorim Terra at al / Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology 2007; 50: 123-128
4. Phytochemical analysis and hemodynamic actions of Artemisia vulgaris L / Tigno XT et al / Clin. Hemorheol Microcir 2000; 23 (2-4):167-175
5. Estrogenic Flavonoids from Artemisia vulgaris L. / Sang-Jun Lee et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 1998, 46 (8), pp 3325–3329

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