Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup with Vegetables)
Yukgaejang is a hearty and spicy beef soup made from grated beef, lots of green onions and other vegetables. Perfect soup for the cold days to come! Yukgaejang (육개장) is a hearty and spicy beef soup very popular in Korea. Made with grated beef, lots of green onions (pa, 파) and other vegetables such as […]

Yukgaejang is a hearty and spicy beef soup made from grated beef, lots of green onions and other vegetables. Perfect soup for the cold days to come!

DSC4719 3 - Yukgaejang (spicy beef soup with vegetables)

Yukgaejang (육개장) is a hearty and spicy beef soup very popular in Korea. Made with grated beef, lots of green onions (pa, 파) and other vegetables such as gosari (fiddleheads of ferns), bean sprouts, and mushrooms, this is a substantial soup that has a great depth of flavor.

You won't need anything other than a bowl of rice for a completely satisfying meal on a cold winter day. In Korea, yukgaejang is also popular as a nourishing soup that helps beat the summer heat.

As we do with many Korean soups, we often enjoy this soup with mixed rice. Some people prefer to keep the rice and soup separate while eating. What is your preference?

Which cut of beef to use

Beef brisket (yangjimeori, 양지머리) is the typical cut of this and many other Korean soups. It is a tasty and tough piece of meat, ideal for making broth. When well boiled, the meat becomes tender, making it ideal for this soup. You can also use flank steak (chimasal, 치마살) or shank meat (satae, 사태).

If chicken is used instead, then the soup is called Dakgaejang (닭개장).

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Vegetables

If you only want to use one vegetable for this soup, it must be green onions. Many of them! After the beef, it is the most important ingredient in this soup. In Korea, the wide variety of green onions, called daepa (대파), are used for soups. No, they are not the same as leeks. Daepa is packed with a unique sweet onion flavor. It really uplifts the taste of soups!

Fortunately, the daepa is now available in Korean markets here, especially during the fall and winter.

There are other similar beef soups in Korea, but the gosari (fiddleheads of fern brake) is unique in this soup. You can buy dried gosari (고사리) in any Korean market and rehydrate yourself by combining soaking and boiling in water. Look for those with short, thin stems.

Besides adding a soft and chewy texture to the dish, gosari lends a deep, earthy flavor to the soup. A bag of dried gosari can last a long time in your pantry, and you can also use it in bibimbap (비빔밥).

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seasoning

Sesame oil is essential for me and it's usually infused with gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). Simply heat the oil and mix with the gochugaru. To add flavor, I usually add very small amounts of gochujang (Korean red chili paste) and doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste). But, absolutely optional! This yukgaejang recipe is not fiery. Adjust the heat level to your liking.

Variations

If you want your soup to be very rich, you can also boil some beef bones (like neck bones) with the meat. Or, I sometimes add pre-made seolleongtang broth (aka milky bone broth or sagol yuksu) to boil the meat because I usually have it in my freezer. You can also use store-bought milky beef bone broth, usually called sagol yuksu (사골 육수) or sagol gomtang (사골 곰탕).

You can also use anchovy broth or dashima broth boil the beef to add additional flavor to the resulting broth.

In general, I pour lightly beaten eggs on the soup at the end of cooking. Some people prefer a thin egg omelet filling (jidan, 지단). You can skip the eggs if you want.

Noodles are also a great addition! Dangmyeon (당면), sweet potato starch noodles (aka japchae noodles), is typical of this soup.

Instant pot yukgaejang

Lately, I have been using my Instant Pot to prepare this dish. It really is much faster to cook a tough cut of meat, and I love the tenderness and humidity of the beef.

Simply add the meat, onion, optional radish and garlic to the Instant Pot with water. You will need a lot less water because it will not evaporate in the Instant Pot. I use about 10 cups for this recipe.

Then cook at high manual temperature for 30 minutes. When cooking is complete, release the pressure after 10 minutes. Remove the meat and strain the broth. Follow the rest of the recipe and use the Sauté function to finish.

More soup recipes

15 Korean Soup Recipes

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Yukgaejang (spicy beef soup with vegetables)

Main

Portions: 4

Print the recipe

Instructions

  • Add the gosari and 4 cups of water to a small saucepan. Boil over medium heat, covered, until tender. Mine only took about 30 minutes, but the time can vary greatly depending on the gosari. Turn off the heat and let cool in the cooking water. When you are ready to use, rinse with cold water and drain. Cut into 4-inch lengths, removing the tough ends of the stems, if any. (See note 1.)

  • In a large saucepan, bring the meat, onion, optional radish and garlic to a boil in 14 cups of water (see note 2). Reduce the heat to medium and skim the foam. Boil, covered, until meat is tender enough to be shredded, about 1 hour. Remove a string of meat and check for tenderness. Let the meat cool a little in the cooking liquid. Discard the vegetables and reserve the broth in the saucepan. Remove any visible grease. The broth should contain about 7 to 8 cups.

  • When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it into strips of about 3 to 4 inches.

  • Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for a minute. Wash in cold water and drain. Cut the green onions into 4-inch lengths. Thinly slice the soaked mushrooms.
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  • In a skillet, heat the sesame oil until hot over low heat and stir in the chili flakes. Turn off the heat as soon as the oil starts to turn red and the chili flakes get a little mushy. It only takes few seconds. Do not burn the flakes.
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  • Add the meat, ferns, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and garlic. Mix well.
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  • Add the mixture of meat and gosari with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce in the broth. Stir in the optional gochujang and doenjang and boil over medium-high heat, covered, for 10 minutes.

  • Add the bean sprouts and green onions and boil over medium heat for another 10 minutes. Add salt (1 teaspoon or more) and pepper to taste. A few minutes before lighting the fire, add the optional noodles. Slowly pour the optional eggs over the boiling soup and turn off the heat. Serve with rice.

Instant Pot Method

  • Add the meat, onion, optional radish and garlic to the Instant Pot with 10 cups of water.

  • Cook at high manual temperature for 30 minutes. When cooking is complete, release the pressure after 10 minutes. Remove the meat and strain the broth. Follow the rest of the cook's recipe. Use the Sauté function for steps 7 and 8 to finish.

Notes

  1. You can also soak the gosari for several hours to soften it, then boil over medium heat until tender.
  2. You can use a combination of milky beef bone broth and water if you want. Add 4-6 cups or more. And just reduce the water by the same amount.

This recipe was originally published in December 2014. I've updated it here with new photos, more information, and minor recipe improvements.



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