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!

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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 (3½ 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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137 Comments:

  1. Jiyuu Malaysia joined 12/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I found your site when I was looking for a kimchi recipe. Thanks to you, I now make kimchi on a regular basis. Its great! Now, I’m looking forward to trying your other recipes. But I don’t know where to start! Bibimbap, jjajangmyun, jobchae? It all looks so good. This oxbone soup looks absolutely delicious!

    I just want to ask, does it necessarily have to be the leg bone? Because my local market would most likely only have the spine (which we also use to make soup, but not the milky kind).

    Thank you for your great recipes! Love them. Love food. Love you!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,670 comments

      “I now make kimchi on a regular basis” Great news! You make your own homemade delicious kimchi.
      Yes, you can use spine bones to make bone soup. Good luck with your Korean cooking!

  2. sheisaeval joined 1/09 & has 2 comments

    I tried to make this and it looked good and milky when I was cooking it, but after I put it in the fridge overnight, the next day the whole bowl of soup was gelatinized! When you microwave it, it turns back into soup, but it’s not milky anymore.

  3. kyootty California joined 7/10 & has 4 comments

    Yay! I was looking for a recipe for seolleongtang a few weeks ago and was so disappointed that I couldn’t find one here and now here it is! Can’t wait to try it. I was visiting Pusan around this time last year and had this soup for the very first time. It was so soothing and warm. Now that it is getting cold here in California, it makes me grave it even more. But when I had it there it was with noodles and rice. Do you know what kind of noodles I should use for that? Thanks!

  4. whitespace New York joined 11/10 & has 3 comments

    I’m wildly excited to see this recipe!
    I’ve tried to make it 3 times (before seeing your site) and each time it was a disaster. My mom would try to explain what to do on the phone and then I’d find myself regretting that I didn’t cook in the kitchen with her more when I was little.

    Anyways, I’m definitely making this. Am picking up the ingredients on my way home from work tomorrow. I’m so excited about it that I hope I can sleep tonight. Yeeeeeee-ay!!!!!

  5. joyoon joined 8/10 & has 9 comments

    My husband and I got into a heated argument because he said that if I scaled down the recipe to just “1 bowl” I would only need 1/2 lbs of beef bone and still be able to make a quality ox bone soup. I refused, saying you still need a certain amount of *minimum* beef bones to create enough milky broth. Who is correct, maangchi? I am right?

  6. ec_washington St. Paul, MN joined 10/10 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi thank you for posting this recipe!! This is one of my new favorite Korean foods.

    I tried making it during the long weekend (although could only find oxtail bone and beef feet)

    Not perfect (couldn’t get the broth totally white and milky) but it was still very tasty!

    http://kitchendreamer.blogspot.com/2010/11/seollangtang-korean-oxbone-soup.html

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,670 comments

      awesome, I twitted about your blog! It looks great! Don’t worry about getting it totally white. The first time you boil it, it’s not going to be milky because the blood inside the bones is getting boiled out, but the second and the third time will be more and more milky.

  7. babytan joined 11/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    Thank you for posting this recipe.
    This is one of my favorite Korean soup and always wanted to learn how to make it.
    I thought this soup is very diffcult to cook, but after watching your video, I think I have the confidence to make it for my husband to try.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Carolyn

  8. Fransisca Scottsdale, Arizona joined 11/10 & has 3 comments

    Maangchi,
    My broth wasn’t milky at all.
    Do you know what I could have done wrong?

    Thank you

    • Fransisca Scottsdale, Arizona joined 11/10 & has 3 comments

      Maangchi, I just realized that I used ox-tail instead of ox-bone. I guess it was the reason why my broth wasn’t milky.
      Anyway, it still taste very good. My whole family loves it. Thank you for the recipe Maangchi. =D

      • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,670 comments

        Don’t worry about getting it totally white. The first time you boil it, it’s not going to be milky because the blood inside the bones is getting boiled out, but the second and the third time will be more and more milky.

  9. helenhong VT/NH joined 10/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi – love your website and all the wonderful recipes!! Is this the same as ox tail soup? Is there a difference whether I use ox tail or ox leg bone? Thanks!!

  10. Han Su Rii Malaysia joined 10/10 & has 8 comments

    i was just about to ask u ths recipe…i thnk i saw it once in korean drama ‘shining inheritance’…since then i was wondering about the soup. hehe. i’l definitely try this recipe ;D
    tq.

  11. luke1979 Canberra Australia joined 6/10 & has 3 comments

    I am on holidays in the gold coast and just walked out a restaurant where I had that dish, eh so full I put rice in mine and when I got back from the hotel I was like I wonder if Maangchi has this on her site and bingo you do :-) Ill be making this when I get back home. And your right I only had ox bone in mine and it was not enough extra meet would have been good :-) hope your well, thanks for having such a great site! I love it.

  12. Sylvia joined 9/08 & has 78 comments

    OMG Solungtang or (seollentang, seolleong-tang, seollongtang)
    Thank You, Thank You!!
    I can’t wait to try your recipe!!

  13. kizb joined 3/10 & has 2 comments

    Thank you Maangchi. Just watch this video make me salivate already. Man, it just sooo…. good.

  14. sheisaeval joined 1/09 & has 2 comments

    I love this soup!

  15. powerplantop Louisiana joined 6/09 & has 69 comments

    You are right it is very easy to make this soup. But it taste so good!

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