Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup with Vegetables)

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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. 
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Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup with Vegetables)

4.25 from 56 votes
Servings: 4
Print Recipe


  • 1 ounce dried gosari 고사리 (fernbrakes) - yields about 1 cup rehydrated
  • 1 pound beef brisket 양지머리 (or flank steak or shank meat)
  • 1/2 onion do not cut the stem
  • 8 ounces Korean radish mu, 무, cut into big chunks - optional
  • 14 cups water
  • 8 ounces sukju 숙주 (bean sprouts)
  • 3 dry shiitake mushrooms soaked (or fresh shiitake or oyster mushrooms)
  • 2 - 3 bunches scallions
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons gochugaru 고추가루 (Korean red chili pepper flakes) - more for spicier soup
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons guk ganjang 국간장 (soup soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon doenjang 된장 (Korean fermented soybean paste)
  • 1 teaspoon gochujang 고추장 (Korean chili pepper paste)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten


  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred into about 3 to 4-inch strips.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Add the meat, fernbrakes, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon soup soy sauce, and garlic. Combine well.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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You can also soak the gosari for several hours to soften and then boil over medium heat until tender.
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