Ramadan Recipes: Amina El Shafei Restaurant for Spicy Korean Seafood (haemultang) | Australian food and drink

hAemultang is a healthy and tasty Korean soup, made with a mixture of shellfish and fish, and cooked in a spicy broth. It is often cooked in a heavy stone pot that retains heat on the table; But sometimes it is served on a portable stove, especially when there is a crowd to feed it.

This already wonderful dish is even more special to me, as it carries sentimental memories—both of the home I grew up in and of traveling to my mother’s homeland.

My mother is Korean and my father is Egyptian. They met in Riyadh in the 1970s when they were working as expats in Saudi Arabia, my mom a nurse and my dad an accountant. Their marriage was promiscuous, which they say was very common at the time. Saudi Arabia was open to the outside world, and many expatriates and cultures mixed together.

With immigration and expat workers, there are an estimated 100,000 Muslims in South Korea. The majority live in Seoul, where my mother grew up and my grandmother still lives, but there are also a few mosques across the country. Since 2004, the State Department has actually held an annual iftar during Ramadan.

But, 40 years ago, when my mom was growing up, Islam did not exist in Korea. I learned a lot about it, living in Saudi Arabia and meeting my parents, and I was transformed.

For me, it is a great honor to have two different legacies. It means visiting extended family in both countries, and being able to inherit two very different cuisines. I think it was enriching for my father too. The father does a lot of interfaith work.

There is no specific recipe for Haemultang in Korea, although the broth is generally made from gochujang (fermented pepper paste), gochugaru (chili flakes or powder), fragrant seafood, and anchovies or beef stock.

Amina El Shafei in the kitchen. Photography: Amina El Shafei

When my mother used to make her version, she often used blue lobster, shrimp, and whatever white-fleshed fish fillets were fresh from the local seafood store.

There is no prerequisite for the type of seafood used. It can vary depending on what you personally like or what’s available—although a variety of shellfish is always recommended, as the shellfish will enhance the flavor of the broth as it cooks.

When I traveled to South Korea in 2014, visited Busan, the capital of seafood, and had a ridiculously good pot of haemultang, which reignited my love for it. Then in 2016, my husband and I traveled to Seoul for our honeymoon. Our first dinner was haemultang! Both versions contain exotic shellfish like abalone and sea snails.

My version of haemultang was inspired by my experiences in Busan. I find that a mixture of crab, pips, prawns, mussels, and firm white-fleshed fish like ling make a great broth.

Head to your local Korean grocer to get your hands on gochujang (fermented pepper paste), and gochugaru (chili flakes or powder)—and if you’re not too keen on very spicy broth, use a few of these ingredients. Chrysanthemum leaves are used a lot in Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines and can be found in any Asian grocery.

And remember, there are no real rules. Take the opportunity to travel to the local fish market, ask them what’s good at the moment and explore the types of local seafood. You can’t go wrong, and you might end up trying some new and delicious seafood for the first time.

Hemoltang Amina (Spicy Seafood Stew)

1 liter of high-quality broth (seafood, dashi, anchovy or vegetable broth all work)
2 blue swimmer crabs
Cleaned and cleaned in half
1 dozen mussels
trimmed and cleaned
16 vongoles or peps
cleaned
8 large shrimp or a large banana
leave the whole
500 grams of ling fillet
And the (or similar hard white fillets) deboned and skin removed
250 grams of firm tofu
And the Cut into cubes of 1 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm
Medium onion
And the thin slices
Half a teaspoon of minced ginger
Half a teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon coarse gochujaro (dried chili flakes or powder)
1 tablespoon gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
1 tablespoon round soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
small bunch of chrysanthemum leaves (chrysanthemum crown)
200 grams of enoki mushrooms
cut at the base
Medium grain rice cooked to serve

Mix the seasoning ingredients until well combined and set aside.

In a semi-shallow stone/clay pot (use one with a lid), bring stock of your choice to a boil. While waiting for the broth to boil, make sure all of the prepared seafood has any excess moisture dried with a paper towel. Cut the ling fillet into 3 cm cubes.

Once the broth comes to a boil, lower the heat to a boil. Carefully arrange the tofu, onion slices, fish fillets, and remaining seafood, then bring to a high heat and cover. Cook for three to five minutes, until seafood is tender. Make sure all the mussels and vongoles or pips are opened – if there are any that haven’t opened, throw them away.

Just before serving, arrange the chrysanthemum leaves and enoki mushrooms on top of the heimultang center. Serve immediately with individual servings of hot rice.

  • Amina El Shafei A pediatric nurse, wife, mother and passionate cook who loves to travel and explore different cultures. She is a two-time MasterChef contestant, and her book Amina’s Home Cooking is a tribute to the Egyptian and Korean food she grew up eating.

  • You can find this and other Australian-Islamic recipes and stories on the Ramadan Recipes website; And follow the project on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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