Growing up near the Pacific Ocean, I've eaten my fair share of seafood. But I was a little unnerved when I unearthed an unidentifiable withered, round mystery from my bowl of haemul jungol - a bubbling seafood stew served piping hot at Hodori, a Korean restaurant in Mesa. The giant silver bowl of soup, called a "casserole" on the restaurant's menu, included a medley of familiar ocean creatures - everything from head-on shrimps, whole crabs, and clams to one large squid the server cut into pieces with scissors before plopping them into the crimson broth.
I was okay with that. And the soup was delicious, overflowing with triangles of soft tofu, thick udon-style noodles, and fresh vegetables and herbs, an entrée for two that simmered on a tabletop convection burner until the piquant smells could no longer be resisted. Each spoonful delivered a delicate balance of briny ocean flavor and a pleasing level of spice.