What is soondae? The word looks an awful lot like sundae (it’s even commonly transliterated this way), but I can guarantee that most people would be fairly shocked to receive a plate full of plump sausages filled with blood and pig’s snout, rather than the sweet, frozen treat of their dreams. Soondae is a traditional Korean blood sausage similar to black pudding, though the starchy filler used is glutinous (sweet) rice. It’s a true sausage in that it is stuffed inside a casing much like morcilla or boudin noir. The texture is amazing, folks. It’s light, chewy, bouncy – quite reminiscent of mochi due to the sticky rice and pork snouts. It’s something you can become addicted to far too easily..
This sausage can be served as a simple snack dipped in a salt/chili flake mixture, sprinkled with shichimi togarashi, or even a chili sambal. It can be used as a tasty component in porridge and soups (ie. Sundae-gukbap 순대국밥). Want something lighter? Wrap it in lettuce, like a ssambap, with kimchi and other banchan. Soondae is a more versatile food than it may first appear; the possibilities are only limited by the imagination.. Sweet Korean blood sausage, a la spicy sanguinaccio mochi, anyone? ;P Alright, I’m drifting here.
How many hours have I spent researching soondae recipes? I don’t even know anymore.. Sadly, most of what I’ve come to find hasn’t been very informative or impressive, except in one particular instance.. Years ago, Lucky Peach had an amazing article on the making of this blood sausage, but I never got around to saving the recipe! To my absolute horror, it went down with the mother ship (LP is no more). I thought it was gone forever, but as luck would have it, the very chef from the article put out her own cookbook recently.
(I snatched it up as fast as my greedy little hands could grab..)
This recipe was adapted from the cookbook Korean Home Cooking: Classic and Modern Recipes by chef
Korean Blood Sausage, Soondae (순대)
Recipe makes about 10 sausages
1 lb (450 g) pork snouts, cut into large chunks
3/4 c (150 g) light brown sugar
1/2 c (118 ml) soy sauce
1 Tbsp instant coffee
1 small onion, peeled & halved
1/2 bunch scallions, cut into 2 inch strips
2-3 dried jujubes
1 Tbsp ginger, peeled & minced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
2 – 3 whole cloves
5 oz (140 g) pork fat, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, peeled & minced
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 Tbsp gochugaru
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds, freshly ground
2 bunches scallions, coarsely chopped
4 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp fish sauce
Finishing the Sausage:
1 1/3 c (275 g) glutinous (sweet) rice, soaked in water for 1 hour and drained
9 oz (250 ml) sweet potato starch vermicelli
2 cups (450 g) pork blood
Pork sausage casings, soaked, rinsed, and cut into at least 10 – 12 inch lengths
20-24 pieces of butcher’s twine, cut into 4 inch strips
3 Tbsp perilla seeds
1 Tbsp gochugaru
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
Sesame oil, for serving
Preparing the pig snout:
It’s best to do this the day before making the sausage itself, as the snouts will need time to cool and set / solidify in the reduced cooking liquid.
Cut the snouts into large chunks and place in a pot with 4 cups of water. Add the other ingredients from the pork snout list – brown sugar, soy, coffee, onions, scallions, jujubes, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, and clove. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat. Cover and simmer for one hour.
Remove the snouts and set aside. Continue simmering the liquid / remaining ingredients until reduced to about 1 cup liquid (after straining). Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve using a ladle to push the liquid through. I recommend utilizing the solids for something else. They have life in them yet and are still quite tasty – Asian bbq or stirfry sauce, anyone?
As the liquid is reducing, you can cut the snouts into small pieces and pulse them in a food processor until well chopped.
Place mixture into a small loaf pan and refrigerate overnight.
Preparing the Sausage Grind:
About an hour and a half before you intend to make the sausage, put the rice in a bowl with enough water to cover and allow to soak for one hour.
Examine the pork snout mixture. If it solidified, cut it into 1/2in (12mm) cubes. If it did not, as mine tends to do (not enough collagen, maybe?), it will still be fine. Just fold the mixture into the other ingredients for the sausage grind – pork fat, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, black pepper, gochugaru, toasted sesame seeds, scallion, sesame oil, fish sauce.
Place the mixture into the freezer for one to two hours, until noticeably / partially frozen – firm but not frozen solid.
While the sausage grind is in the freezer, soak the sausage casings for 30-45 minutes. This will give them enough time to become pliable.
Bring two pots of water to the boil – one for the rice, the other for noodles. Cook both for 4 minutes each, strain the water, and rinse thoroughly with cold running water until both are completely cool to the touch. Roughly chop the noodles and set aside with the rice.
*Note: If your sticky rice is of a small variety, you might consider skipping the parboiling, or at least reducing the time, as the rice may overcook during the final boiling of the actual sausages.
You don’t need a meat grinder for this recipe, but it makes things a bit easier. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to hand mince the ingredients for the sausage grind. Using a food processor will likely make a gummy mess of the fat.
If you do have a meat grinder, use a medium plate to grind the mixture well.
Fold the rice, noodles, and blood into the meat mixture with your hands until well incorporated and place in the fridge while you prepare the sausage casings.
Run water through your casings to check for any holes. If you find any, you’ll need to cut at that spot to prevent the mixture from leaking / exploding out as you’re stuffing the sausages. At least 10 casings, 12 inches in length, are needed for this recipe, and 20 pieces of butcher’s twine, 4 inches in length.
Use a large funnel (a soda bottle with the end chopped off will also work – see notes) or a sausage stuffing machine to fill each sausage casing with the mixture. Make sure not to stuff your sausages too tight or they will likely burst as they cook – remember, your ingredients are only partially cooked at this point. The sausages should be plump but not extremely taught.
Tie them off with the butcher’s twine, about 1 inch from the ends of each side of the casing, and place the finished sausages in the fridge as you’re making them. This will prevent them from becoming unsafe due to time / temperature issues.
Cooking the Sausage:
To prevent splitting. prick each sausage 5-6 times with a toothpick to allow any trapped air to release while they’re simmering.
Fill a large pot with 1 gallon of water, a tablespoon of salt, the blood sausages, and bring to a simmer. Make sure not to boil them – they may burst open. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until the center of the sausages are 170-180 ºF ( 77-82 ºC)
Remove the sausages from the pot and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This will allow any juices to settle in the mixture, instead of immediately bleeding / leaking out.
You may, at this point, freeze any sausages you don’t intend to eat for up to 3 weeks. I recommend doing this right away, as even cooked blood spoils quickly, even in the refrigerator.
Preparing the Perilla Salt:
Powdered, partially ground, or whole perilla seeds will all work well for this mixture. I used partially ground because it really brings out the flavor of the seeds. If you can’t locate perilla seeds, sesame seeds will also work very well.
Toast them for about 3 minutes at 375 degrees. Be very careful not to burn them – they will go bitter. Cool the seeds to room temperature and grind them to a course powder. If you decide to do this, make sure that they are completely cool (if roasted) and pulse in small batches, otherwise you’ll get perilla butter in your spice grinder (which is also quite tasty).
Pork snouts (along with pork sausage casings and blood) can be found in most well stocked butcher shops or Asian markets. Look in the meat or frozen sections. If you can’t find pork snouts, ham hocks may work, though you’ll be missing the harder bits cartilage (you could add pig ears to the ham hocks to remedy this).
Pork Blood can be found in most well stocked Asian markets in either the freezer or cooler sections. Many butcher shops also carry it frozen, or can special order it for you if you give them enough time. Keep the blood frozen until you intend to use it. It generally thaws over night if placed on a plate in the refrigerator.
Glutanous Rice is a very specific type of sticky rice needed for this recipe. Unfortunately, if you replace it with normal Asian short grain rice, you won’t get the same results. Look for the short, fat grained glutinous rice, as it will give your sausage the desired bouncy, mochi like texture.
Jujubes are Asian red dates, usually found dried in most Asian markets. The bigger the fruit, the tastier they seem to be. I tend to see the bigger ones in Korean markets.
Gochugaru is a sun-dried, crushed Korean chili pepper that is fairly essential to Korean cooking. It comes in a fine powder or coarsely ground. Either would work fine here – it really depends on your preference.
Perilla seeds are seeds from the perilla or shiso plant. They can be found in Korean markets, usually near the sesame seeds. They lend a lovely nuttiness and crunch (if whole or partially crushed) to dishes and spice mixtures.
If you decide to use the funnel method for stuffing your sausages, make sure to find an extra large one, otherwise you wont be able to push the mixture through properly. You’ll likely have to go to a restaurant supply, or home brew store to find one big enough for this purpose.
For the soda bottle method, simply remove the very bottom of a 2 litter bottle and send it through the dishwasher. Use rubber bands (also sent through the dishwasher) to hold the sausage casings tight to the bottom of the funnel / soda bottle spout and a large handled spoon to push the sausage stuffing mixture through.
This is one of those recipes that takes a bit of time and forethought. Like all such foods, however, it’s all worth it in the end. Enjoy!