Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup with Vegetables)

 
Yukgaejang recipe
 
Yukgaejang (육개장) is a hearty, spicy beef soup that’s highly popular in Korea. Made with shredded beef, lots of scallions and other vegetables such as gosari (fernbrake fiddleheads), beansprouts, and mushrooms, this is a substantial soup that has 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 nourishing soup that helps fight the summer heat. 
 
Beef brisket is the best cut for this soup. It’s a flavorful, tough cut of meat that is great for making broth, and it delivers pull-apart tender meat which is ideal for this soup.  You can also use flank steak or shank meat. If chicken is used instead, the soup is then called dakgaejang (닭개장).
 
There are other similar beef soups in Korea, but gosari (fernbrake fiddleheads) is unique in this soup. You can buy dried gosari (고사리) at any Korean market and rehydrate by a combination of soaking and boiling in water. Look for the ones with short, thin stems. Besides adding soft, chewy texture to the dish, gosari imparts a deep, earthy flavor to the soup. A bag of dried gosari can last for a long time in your pantry, and you can also use it in bibimbap (비빔밥). 
 
Sesame oil is essential, and it’s typically infused with gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes). Simply heat the oil and mix with the gochugaru. For added layers of flavor, I usually add very small amounts of gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste) and doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste).  This yukgaejang recipe is not fiery hot. Adjust the heat level according to your taste. 
 
Yukgaejang
 

Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup with Vegetables)
Serves 4
A hearty, spicy Korean beef soup packed with flavor!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ounce dried gosari, 고사리 (fernbrakes) - yields about 1 cup rehydrated
  2. 1 pound beef brisket, 양지머리 (or flank steak or shank meat)
  3. 1/2 onion (do not cut the stem)
  4. 8 ounces Korean radish (mu, 무), cut into big chunks - optional
  5. 14 cups water
  6. 8 ounces sukju, 숙주 (bean sprouts)
  7. 3 dry shiitake mushrooms, soaked (or fresh shiitake or oyster mushrooms)
  8. 2 - 3 bunches scallions
  9. 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  10. 2 tablespoons gochugaru, 고추가루 (Korean red chili pepper flakes) - more for spicier soup
  11. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  12. 2 tablespoons guk ganjang, 국간장 (soup soy sauce)
  13. 1 teaspoon doenjang, 된장 (Korean fermented soybean paste)
  14. 1 teaspoon gochujang, 고추장 (Korean chili pepper paste)
  15. salt and pepper
  16. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Add the gosari and 4 cups of water to a small pot. Boil over medium heat, covered, until tender. Mine only took about 30 minutes, but the time can vary significantly depending on gosari. Turn the heat off and let it cool in the cooking water. When ready to use, rinse in cold water and drain. Cut into 4-inch lengths, removing tough ends of the stems, if any.
    Gosari
  2. In a large pot, bring the meat, onion, optional radish, and garlic to a boil in 14 cups of water. Reduce the heat to medium, and skim off the scum. Boil, covered, until the meat is tender enough for shredding, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Pull a string of meat off and check the tenderness. Remove the meat and cool. Discard the vegetables, reserving the stock in the pot. Spoon off any visible fat.
    Yukgaejang recipe
  3. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred into about 3 to 4-inch strips.
    yukgaejang
  4. Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for a minute. Wash with cold water and drain. Cut the scallions into 4-inch lengths. Thinly slice the soaked mushrooms.
    Yukgaejang
  5. In a pan, heat the sesame oil until hot over low heat and stir in the chili pepper flakes. Turn the heat off as soon as the oil starts to turn red and the chili pepper flakes become a bit pasty. This only takes a few seconds. Do not burn the flakes.
    DSC_1274
  6. Add the meat, fernbrakes, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon soup soy sauce, and garlic. Combine well.
    DSC_0512
  7. Add the meat and gosari mixture along with 1 tablespoon of soup soy sauce into the broth. Stir in the gochujang and doenjang and boil over medium heat, covered, for 20 minutes.
    Yukgaejang recipe
  8. Throw in the bean sprouts and scallions, and boil for another 10 minutes. Add salt (1 teaspoon or more) and pepper to taste. Slowly drizzle the eggs over the boiling soup and turn the heat off. Serve with rice.
    Yukgaejang
Notes
  1. You can also soak the gosari for several hours to soften and then boil over medium heat until tender.
Korean Bapsang http://www.koreanbapsang.com/
 

Comments

  1. U was wondering if using a pressure cooker would help to speed up the process without sacrificing quality?

    • Hi Melody – So sorry for the late response. I haven’t used a pressure cooker to make this soup, but I’m sure it will help speed up the process. I’d recommend using the pressure cooker for only step 2 though. Enjoy!

  2. Hi. I have some dried gosari and would like to know how to use/season them as a side dish. I use your website ALL the time. Thank you.

    • Kim – My bibimbap recipe includes a gosari side dish recipe. It’s obviously for bibimbap, but it can also be a side dish. Thank you so much for using my recipes!!

  3. My girlfriend just made this for my family and it’s wonderful! Thank you so much for the winter recipe

    • That’s great to hear, Max! Hope you’re having a great holiday season with your family and friends.

  4. Thank you so much for your website. I love your recipes !!! I would like to know if you are going to put a recipe about how to make 칼국수.
    Thank you very much.

  5. Oh my, I miss yukgaejang. When we lived in the NY country, my Mom and I would travel to the city once a month to go to the Korean stores and she would always order this at the restaurant there. So many memories, I am def. making this soon, thanks for the recipe <3

    Gina
    Pink Wings

  6. Hi Hyosun, thank you for this recipe. I made it today n it’s a keeper. I was wondering if I can use the liquid that the 고사리 was soaking and cooking in to add to the soup stock? I’d still keep it 14 cups of water only minus and replace the 고사리 liquid however amount it measures to be. Would that make it too strong with that flavor, or bitter…? Hope my question isn’t confusing. Thanks again!

    • Hi Young Mi – Thanks for trying the recipe out! Glad it’s a keeper for you. I think gosari soaked water would overpower the soup and make it bitter. You can use the mushroom soaked water if you want to add more flavor to the soup. Cheers!

  7. I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I’ve substituted fresh watercress for the kosari and it turned out surprisingly good. Watercress doesn’t need to be cooked for long, so I just add it at the very end with the scallions.