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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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122 Comments:

  1. mtsui My profile page joined 8/15
    Posted August 17th, 2015 at 9:43 am | # |

    Hi! I love all your Korean recipes. My boyfriend and I got hooked onto Korean food while addicted to KDrama! I just want to know, is it possible making this and galbitang using pressure cooker? Thanks!

  2. Jaysondavid My profile page joined 4/15
    Posted April 8th, 2015 at 5:48 am | # |

    I grew up on this, and cannot wait to attemp it on my own. I just didn’t realize the steps Eoma took to make it so milky white. I thought she threw the oxtail, radishes, seasonings, and water in a pot, and poof! I guess a little more goes into it! Thanks for all the great recipes!!!

  3. Mikko Seattle, WA USA My profile page joined 12/14
    Posted December 18th, 2014 at 4:18 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi, Can I use ALL ox tail instead of ox bone and beef flank? So, 4.5 or 5 lbs of oxtail instead?

    Will it make the soup less flavorful if I don’t use the beef flank?

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted December 18th, 2014 at 6:24 pm | # |

      Yes, you can! You can skip flank steak and add more ox tail.

      • Mikko Seattle, WA USA My profile page joined 12/14
        Posted December 18th, 2014 at 8:09 pm | # |

        Thanks! I am going to try making this over the weekend. I miss the gori–gomtang my grandma used to make and I want to recreate it! You’re the best.
        Bye!

        • sanne Munich My profile page joined 8/14
          Posted December 19th, 2014 at 12:54 am | # |

          Hi Mikko,

          I prepare gori-gomtang quite often – I don’t always use seolleongtang, chicken-stock works nicely, too; ox-tail is more tasty and better for a hearty soup than any other part. “My” recipe is roughly the same as for galbitang – influenced by gomtang ;-); sometimes I use gori and galbi together. I use less water/stock and a pressure-cooker or a crock-pot (depends on how much meat I have to prepare and how much time there is).

          Serve with kkakdugi, chives, garlic cut in slices (lengthwise. Lots of! ;-)) with a little sesame-oil, sesame-oil with salt, black pepper, rice and kkaennip.
          That’s about how they serve it in a small restaurant at Song-do Haepyeon in Busan – not the fancy tourist-place (“Song-do Gori-chip”), but the small, modest place west across the street, further away from the beach. You find it on daum.net – “Nam Ch’on Seolleongtang ( 남촌설렁탕 )” is the name of the place.
          Best Gori-Gomtang ever!

          Bye, sanne.

  4. JooYeun Ohio My profile page joined 12/14
    Posted December 10th, 2014 at 1:30 pm | # |

    I definitely made the mistake of using a crock pot, and my broth was still a light brown in the last round of water. Is it still edible even if it’s brown and not the beautiful, milky white?

  5. Ironman Korea My profile page joined 7/14
    Posted July 6th, 2014 at 5:47 pm | # |

    I live alone I’m too busy to make ox bone soup
    When are you going to post ox tail soup?
    I’m waiting.

    • shinta_septia indonesia My profile page joined 7/14
      Posted July 18th, 2014 at 6:23 am | # |

      Hello maangchi. I love this recipe and i want try it. Can you help me?. I want to ask you about what kind of ox bones it is? If it is leg ox bones, should i discard the skin from bones?, cause in my country the leg bones is always with the skin. Sorry if my english bad. :)

  6. hellokitty08 My profile page joined 5/10
    Posted April 7th, 2014 at 10:14 pm | # |

    My broth turned yellowish/brown, I don’t know what I did wrong, I tried to boil it for longer and high heat and it didn’t help :(

    • mooshoofooie Houston, TX My profile page joined 4/14
      Posted April 27th, 2014 at 2:37 pm | # |

      you probably didn’t boil the bones enough the first time (when you discard the water).
      the point of this part is to boil out most of the blood from the bones. if you don’t boil it long enough, the soup turns a brown color instead of opaque.

    • Sour Grapes Melbourne My profile page joined 5/14
      Posted May 11th, 2014 at 9:43 am | # |

      There are two things that guarantee white colour:
      1. All traces of blood have to be removed. This is why soaking bones and rinsing them after the first boil is so important.
      2.You have to actually boil the broth instead of simmering it. Unless the temperature is high enough to extract minerals from the bones it will never turn white, even after 10 hours.

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted July 7th, 2014 at 8:47 pm | # |

      yes, it’s normal. As mooshoofooie mentioned, the brown color comes from blood. Keep boiling over low heat and pour it out to a pot, then add water and boil it again. The 2nd batch will turn out milky white broth. Then pour it into the first batch. The color will be ok. If you boil 3rd batch, the color will still be milky but thinner. Making bone soup never fails if you keep boiling.

  7. FeiLachica Canberra My profile page joined 3/14
    Posted March 17th, 2014 at 11:44 pm | # |

    Can I skip the radish?

    • mooshoofooie Houston, TX My profile page joined 4/14
      Posted April 27th, 2014 at 2:39 pm | # |

      yes, but let’s say us Koreans don’t recommend it.
      we say boiling soups with radish gives the soup a smooth taste.
      only when you eat soup with and without can you really understand what we mean. :-)

  8. hellokitty08 My profile page joined 5/10
    Posted February 15th, 2014 at 5:50 pm | # |

    Instead of beef flank can I use sahtae beef?

    Also if I want to make 3 servings instead of 6 should I boil for half of the time or the same time?

  9. petalcollie United States My profile page joined 12/13
    Posted December 13th, 2013 at 9:25 pm | # |

    Hi,
    Mine was good but really bland… is it supposed to be super flavorful?

    Thanks!

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted December 14th, 2013 at 10:32 am | # |

      No problem! : ) Keep boiling the broth with the bone over low heat until it gets as thick as you want. Add more water if the water runs out.

    • xelloss1989 United States My profile page joined 1/13
      Posted February 15th, 2014 at 6:19 pm | # |

      Hi Maangchi! I have a question on the recipe. If we cook the beef flank and mu with the bones, and we need to wait overnight for the fat in the soup to solidify, does that mean we need to store the cooked mu and flank overnight as well? In your video you had the soup you made from the previous evening so the mu and flank were used right after cooked. Can we just cook the bone soup with only the bones, and then on the second day, put the flank and mu in the soup and cook together longer before serving?

      • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
        Posted February 16th, 2014 at 2:28 pm | # |

        “does that mean we need to store the cooked mu and flank overnight as well?” yes, keep the cooked beef and radish in an airtight container in the fridge until you serve the soup. “Can we just cook the bone soup with only the bones, and then on the second day, put the flank and mu in the soup and cook together longer before serving?” Yes, you can do that, but cooking radish and beef will take a long time.

  10. chigau_me UK My profile page joined 11/11
    Posted September 23rd, 2013 at 4:49 am | # |

    dear Maagchi! thank you for your recipe! i was wondering if you can make a video about kkori gomtang (i don’t know if i spell it right, i’m thinking about an oxtail soup)! Thanks a lot!

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted September 23rd, 2013 at 6:55 am | # |

      Kkori gomtang is Korean style oxtail soup. Actually you can use my ox bone soup recipe to make kkori gomtang. yes, I will post oxtail soup recipe someday.

  11. k_b My profile page joined 4/11
    Posted August 24th, 2013 at 2:12 am | # |

    To make the spicy version of this soup, can I use the kimchi red pepper flakes I have?
    Or do I need to buy a different kind?

    Thank you : )

  12. JoJo2013 Talent, OR My profile page joined 3/13
    Posted March 13th, 2013 at 7:40 pm | # |

    Thank you soooooo much for this recipe! I am originally from LA and I grew up in the Korea Town area. This is my favorite KOREAN soup, I live here in Oregon now and there are no Korean restaurants so it’s been at least 8 years since I’ve had this!!!! Can’t wait to make my own!

  13. MeeAe Colorado My profile page joined 2/13
    Posted February 5th, 2013 at 1:31 am | # |

    Ok for those of you who are confused about ox bones vs beef bones, they are basically the same. They still call the grocery cuts of bone “ox” still, but it always was just male beef cuts. Nowadays the same male cattle that have been castrated are known as steer. They are used for meat. They are all the same. Beef. The only males not castrated are called Bulls, and they are only kept un-castrated for the sake of breeding (those lucky ones :) so…ox bones are beef bones.

  14. amgranad FL My profile page joined 2/13
    Posted February 1st, 2013 at 7:35 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi, Is this the same as ox-tail soup? Have you tried using a pressure cooker for this? Does it make a difference?

  15. Oboro-chan Indonesia My profile page joined 1/13
    Posted January 28th, 2013 at 4:27 pm | # |

    Hello! I made this one with your recipe last month for my friends and they love it! But the thing is, my broth doesnt look as milky as yours.. I wonder why? I followed every instruction you made.. Is it possible that i didnt soak the meat and bones long enough?

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted January 31st, 2013 at 9:02 am | # |

      That’s normal. yes, the first batch will be brownish but the second and the third batch will be white milky broth. Please read step 13.14, and15 in the recipe.
      “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.
      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.
      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.”

    • Jin Na Texas My profile page joined 7/13
      Posted July 9th, 2013 at 12:51 pm | # |

      Hi! My first attempt in making this soup didn’t turn out milky either but I got a milky one on my second try. I used beef leg bones and boiled it in moderate boil. It is in moderately boiling it that you get the milky results. I also refilled it with water once the level of the water down. I put the soup in the fridge to coagulate the fat and so it made it easier to remove. I put the rest of my soup in the freezer future use. Hope that helps.

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