Recipes

Ox-bone soup

Seolleongtang 설렁탕

Ox bone soup is very popular all year round in Korea, but especially in the winter. This is my mother’s recipe. When I was young, sometimes in the winter she used to make us drink it every morning and every night until we got tired of it. “It’s good for your body, take some, you will grow taller” : )

In Korea, ox leg bones (called sagol 사골) are very expensive. When I came to America for the first time about 20 years ago, I couldn’t believe these bones were so cheap!

The milky broth is achieved by simmering for hours and hours. There’s no rule for how many hours you have to boil it, but you need simmer until you get a milky broth, and the bones are smooth with no more meat sticking to them. All the bone marrow should be boiled away so that there’s a cavity in the center of each bone. The inside of the bones should look like a sponge.

Koreans like to joke that if a Korean husband sees his wife making this soup, he starts to get nervous. He knows he’s going to be eating the soup for days or even weeks!

“Why she is making this? Is she going to leave home for days? Maybe she will visit her parents or take a trip with her friends?”

So, when he sees the wife boiling bone soup, he may say ask: “Where are you going?” : )

It’s served with rice and kimchi; you don’t need many side dishes when you serve this. If you keep this soup in the fridge, and warm rice in the rice cooker, and some kimchi and beef portioned out in the fridge, you’ll have instant meals for a long time, all you have to do is heat it up. I heard that some American housewives do a similar thing with lasagna. They make a big batch before they go away, so their husbands and children will have delicious food to eat until they come back.

Don’t ask me: “Maangchi, I want to make only 1 bowl of this soup.” This is the smallest batch of ox-bone soup that I can imagine! I used to make it with 10 pounds of bones: ) So just make a lot, and eat it over a few days.

Ingredients (for 6 servings):
2½ pounds of ox bones, 2 pounds beef flank (or brisket or round), water, Korean radish (or Daikon radish), onion, green onions, salt, black ground pepper, sesame oil.

Directions:

  1. Soak the ox bones and the beef in cold water for 20 minutes to remove any blood.
  2. Rinse bones in cold water a couple of times to remove any bone chips. Drain the water.
  3. Boil 14 cups water (3 ½ quarts) in a large pot
  4. Put the bones and beef into the pot of boiling water. Boil for about 10 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and take out the bones and beef. Get rid of the water.
  6. Rinse and drain the meat in cold water to remove the excess fat.
  7. If you only have one pot to use, clean it thoroughly with kitchen soap.
  8. Put the bones and the beef back into the pot
  9. Add about 12 cups of water (3 quarts), 1 medium size onion, and 1½ pounds of peeled radish to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  10. When it starts boiling about 20-30 minutes later, lower the heat to simmer for 3 hours.
  11. Turn off the heat and take the beef and radish out of the pot. Leave the bones behind.
  12. Put the beef and radish into a bowl.
  13. Pour the brownish broth out of the pot and into a large bowl. We’re going to keep boiling these bones and collect the broth into this collecting bowl as we go along. Keep it in the fridge during this process.
    If you have a larger pot, you could keep boiling the bones and adding water over hours and hours, but with a small pot we need to do it in stages and collect in this collecting bowl.
  14. Fill the pot with water again (about 3 quarts) and boil over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. When it starts boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours.
  15. Turn off the heat, open the lid, and pour the broth into the collecting bowl. It will be a lot whiter than the first time we poured it out. 
  16. Fill your pot with water again and boil over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. When it starts boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours.
  17. Turn off the heat, open the lid, and pour the broth into the collecting bowl. This time it will be really white, but thin.
  18. Cool down the collecting bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Keep it in the refrigerator for several hours until all the fat floats to the top and gets solid. This is going to be our bone soup.

Let’s serve!

  1. Take the bone soup out of the fridge. Remove the solid fat from the top with a spoon or strainer.
  2. Slice the cooked beef thinly, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut radish into ¼ inch thick slices
  3. Reheat the bone soup and ladle the soup into a serving bowl.
  4. Add a few slices of the beef and radish to the soup. Serve with warm rice and kimchi, along with chopped green onions, minced garlic, salt, and black ground pepper.
  5. Add some salt, chopped green onion, and black ground pepper to the soup. Mix it well with your spoon. You can add warm rice to the soup and enjoy!*tip: The amount of salt you put in depends on your taste, but I suggest starting with 1 ts and adding more if it’s too bland.

Spicy version:

  1. Tear about 1 cup worth of cooked beef into thin strips. Put them in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 2 tbs chopped green onion, 2 ts soy sauce, 2 ts hot pepper flakes, a pinch of black ground pepper, and 2 ts sesame oil. Mix it well with a spoon.
  3. Ladle the boiling soup into a serving bowl and add a few slices of radish and the mixture of seasoned beef.
  4. Serve with warm rice, salt, and kimchi.

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