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Now reading Korean Bone Soup

Gori gom tang, 꼬리 곰탕, is a Korean oxtail soup. Growing up, my siblings and I simply knew it as “bone soup.” It’s something I almost always crave, never get to have, and very much hated as a child. Unlike its maybe better-known, bolder, more aggressive Korean soup brethren like kimchi jigae (kimchi stew) and soondubu (kimchi tofu soup), gori gom tang is purposely bland. When I’ve tried making it at home, it’s not the same. Not even close. But over the years, I’ve encountered fleeting moments in which other dishes evoked memories of my mom’s bone soup. As a line cook at Bar Agricole, I remember our chef, Brandon Jew, making some kind of rustic bone-marrow soup. The first taste reminded me that I was missing bone soup, a dish that will always be waiting for me at home. —Eleanore Park

Ingredients

Makes about 6 quarts
  • 1 oxtail, about 2 1/2 lbs
  • 1 small cow’s foot (optional)
  • 1 lb mu (winter daikon) or other daikon
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 leek (optional)
  • + garlic, minced
  • + soy sauce
  • + salt
  • + scallions
  • + freshly ground black pepper
  • + sesame oil
  • + DADEKI (marinated pepper paste), for serving

Dadeki

  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 2 T gochugaru
  • 1 t chopped garlic
  • 1 splash soy sauce
  • + cracked black pepper

Preparation

Dadeki

  1. In a separate bowl, combine freshly sliced scallions, gochugaru, 2 tablespoons of water, chopped garlic, soy sauce, and some cracked black pepper. When everything is mixed together, it should not be too watery, but more like wet sand. Let people season soup according to their preference.

  1. A note before you begin: You have to stay with the soup. You can’t abandon it. Make sure to constantly skim any fat or impurities that float to the top. There should always be enough water to cover everything in the pot by two or three inches. Continue to add water as broth reduces, so that everything remains covered. I usually add a cup of water every hour.

  2. Soak the oxtail in cold water for 20–30 minutes. If using a cow’s foot, soak in a separate bowl.

  3. Combine the oxtail and cow’s foot into a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring the pot to a boil. Remove from the heat, strain the water, and add everything back to the pot with a new change of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for 6–7 hours.

  4. Cut the daikon into 1-inch pieces, and add to the broth with the garlic, onion, and leek (if using). Simmer for another 1–2 hours. Remove the vegetables from the pot, and set aside. Continue simmering the broth for another 4 or 5 hours. It should begin to thicken and to smell rich, and the color will change slightly—it will look milky. Remove from the heat, and take out the oxtail and cow’s foot; the meat should be tender. Let cool.

  5. After the meat has cooled, pull it from the bones and place in a bowl. Marinate with garlic, a few splashes of soy sauce, salt, scallions, pepper, and sesame oil. You’re going to add the meat back into the broth, so it should be well-seasoned.

  6. Store the broth in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, skim off the fat that has floated to the top. Bring the broth back to a boil, and add salt to taste. Divide into serving bowls, divvy up the meat, and serve with the dadeki, kimchi, kakduki (Korean radish kimchi), and rice.