Many cultures serve blood sausage as a delicacy in their cuisine. Korea is no different, also having their version of blood sausage that’s incredibly popular street food.
They call it “soondae” or “sundae.”
But is soondae healthy? No, it’s not healthy. While many dishes within Korean cuisine are quite good for you, soondae is not necessarily one of them. Once you learn what’s in it, you’ll understand this intricately.
However, not all is doom and gloom, and it’s okay to consume in moderation.
Let’s get started.
Soondae & Its Ingredients
Soondae is pig or cow intestines filled with things like blood (or seonji), rice, veggies, kimchi, minced meat, perilla leaves (kkaennip), scallions, soybean paste (doenjang), and soybean sprouts.
But, these aren’t all in one sausage, albeit possible for them to be. These are usually cooked by steaming.
Different regions throughout Korea, North, and South, prepare it in various ways. Traditional soondae will have meat. However, modern street foods in South Korea sometimes use glass noodles instead of rice.
A scant number of Buddhist monasteries and/or restaurants will create a soondae that is 100% vegetarian as well.
Yet, some varieties use seafood. They’ll use squid or the swim bladder of brown croakers for the casing.
The stuffing will be things like Alaskan Pollock, crab, local fish, and other such water creatures. While these are high in fat, they are healthier in the interim.
Of all the foods in Korea, soondae is among the top 10 with significant historical background. It comes from the Goryeo Period (918 to 1392 AD – just before the all-important Joseon Period).
During this time, wild boars were prolific for these earlier Koreans.
However, people viewed soondae as an indulgent dish (still do today) and, therefore, reserved to eating it only on holidays, festivals, and family celebrations.
Once the Korean War ended, meat was very scarce, and that’s when they started using glass noodles in the filling for the sausage.
Also, soondae is no longer holiday food, but a common street fare found throughout South Korea.
It now falls under the classification of a snack rather than a meal. However, it can comprise an entire dish, like soup or stir-fry.
Nutritional Value of Soondae
Because most people encounter the street food version of soondae, which will have noodles, we’ll evaluate that nutritional value.
If you have access to another variety, chances are, the numbers given below will be much higher.
One serving of soondae, which is about ¾ cup (170 grams), has a total of 270 calories. There’s a whopping 1200 milligrams of sodium with 360 milligrams of cholesterol.
But total fat and protein only sit at eight and 18 grams, respectively. So, in some ways, it’s okay to eat, but the sodium and cholesterol counts are outrageous.
Also, it stands to mention that most people usually eat much more than ¾ cup of blood sausage in one sitting.
So, if you are looking to manage your weight or have a diet due to special health concerns, you have one of two options.
The first is to avoid eating soondae or ensure you control your portions.
Soondae Bokeum Recipe
If you want to eat soondae while keeping things as healthy as possible, you can make it into a stir-fry.
This way, you’ll be able to maintain the one-serving portion of ¾ cup and stay within a reasonable number of calories, sodium, and cholesterol.
The following recipe is a classic home-style dish.
Items You’ll Need
- Medium Bowl
- Strainer or Colander
- Small Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Large Knife
- Cutting Board
- Gloves (for chopping hot peppers and chiles)
- Wok or Large Skillet
- Mixing Spoons
- 3 oz Glass Noodles
- 5 oz Enoki Mushrooms (ends trimmed)
- 5 Garlic Cloves (minced)
- 2 Tbsp Sesame Seed Powder
- 2 Tbsp Soju, Mirin or Rice Wine
- 2 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Red Chili Paste (Gochujang)
- 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 Carrot (sliced)
- 1 Onion (large, sliced)
- ¼ Cabbage (small, sliced thin)
- 3 Scallions (sliced)
- 3 Cups Soondae (cut into one-inch pieces)
- 1 Serrano, Habanero or Jalapeno Pepper (sliced)
- 20 Perilla Leaves (cut in ½-inch slices)
- 2 Thai Chiles (optional – sliced)
- ¼ Cup Fermented Bean Dipping Sauce (Ssamjang – optional)
- Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
- Begin by soaking the glass noodles in boiling water using the medium-sized bowl, and then chop all veggies
- In the small mixing bowl, combine the following: sesame seed powder, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, soju, sesame oil, soy sauce, gochujang, rice vinegar, and garlic set aside.
- Turn the stove onto high heat and place the wok or skillet on the burner add one tablespoon of sesame oil.
- Once hot, cook carrots for one minute, then add onion and cabbage, cooking for an additional minute. With clean hands, break the mushroom into the stir-fry.
- Strain the glass noodles and add that to the pan with ¼ cup of the soaking water. Continue to stir the mixture until everything blends well.
- Add the soondae and lightly stir to avoid breakage of the meat cook for about five minutes.
- Once the sausage warms, stir in the sauce mixture, scallions, perilla, chiles, and hot peppers. Lightly stir again.
- Serve with chili pepper slices and sesame seed powder along with ssamjang and perilla leaves on the side.
While soondae definitely sounds delicious, it’s not necessarily the healthiest thing you can find in Korean cuisine.
However, if you are sensible and exercise a little moderation, you can enjoy a little from time to time. You just have to watch your portions and don’t eat them more than once per month.