Although I grew up with Korean food, I didn’t realize how many dishes I’ve never tasted or even heard of until I worked with a Korean chef. She exposed me to dishes such as bossam, a stewed pork dish, sam gae tang, a stuffed chicken soup, and even how to make kimchi. Yuk gae jang, a spicy Korean beef soup, was a dish I had once before but she was the one who reminded me of this great soup. I recently ordered yuk gae jang at a restaurant not too long ago and after remembering how delicious it is, I knew I had to prepare it at home. Just like any other Korean dish, this soup requires time and some love, but the end result is well worth it.
Yuk Gae Jang (Spicy Korean Beef Soup)
2 lb beef brisket
1 gallon water
1/2 onion, peeled
5 tbsp gochugaru, Korean chili powder
3 tbsp chili oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 lb bean sprouts, washed
1/2 lb boiled royal fern, rinsed several times
1 leek, sliced in half
12 green onions, cut into 3 inch pieces, cut the white stem in half lengthwise
20 oz sweet potato noodles (Korean vermicelli)
3 eggs, whisked
Place beef brisket in a large pot and fill half of the pot with water. Cover and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, removing the impurities from the beef. Remove brisket from heat, drain and rinse with cold water. Wash the pot. Return the brisket to the clean pot with 1 gallon of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.
Add the 1/2 onion, peeled, in the broth. Cook for 2 more hours, adding more water as it evaporates.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining the gochugaru - soy sauce. Set aside.
After 2 hours, turn off the heat and remove the onion and beef, discarding the onion. There should be about 10-11 cups of broth remaining. Skim the fat from the broth.
Shred the beef brisket using two forks. The meat should be tender enough to easily fall apart. Mix the shredded beef, bean sprouts, royal fern, and white stem of the green onions with the prepared sauce in a large bowl. Mix to combine.
Bring the soup back to a boil. Add the beef mixture, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the sliced leeks and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain the leeks and immediately soak in cold water with ice. Squeeze out the moisture and set aside.
Add the top green parts of the green onions and the leeks to the soup. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Cook sweet potato noodles according to directions on package.
Slowly add the whisked eggs into the soup, stirring in one clockwise motion. Cook for another minute. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper. To serve, portion the noodles into 6 bowls. Ladle the soup and serve.
This soup, much like other soups, takes several hours to develop a depth of flavor. Don’t let this stop you from preparing this meal because it’s all inactive time!
First step is to remove the impurities including the blood from the beef brisket. If you can’t find brisket, I used chuck roast. Even though the beef only cooks for 5 minutes, you can see the impurities come out as the water gets foamy. Make sure to rinse the beef and thoroughly clean the pot before cooking again.
After the broth cooks for one hour, add the onion. Keep the onion whole to make it easier to remove later.
Two hours later, the broth has achieved some color. You can see the layer of fat on the top that you want to remove. If you like, you can prepare the soup the day before, chill in the fridge and skim the fat the next day. This makes it easier to remove the fat since it will harden on top.
Since the beef will be hot, use two forks to shred the beef. Shredding the beef while hot makes it easier to pull apart. The beef should be tender and fall apart easily, with no resistance.
Royal fern is also known as ferndrake root. It can be found Asian markets, specifically Korean markets, in the refrigerated section. There is also the dried root, but you must rehydrate it before using. This ingredient is key in developing the flavors of the soup.
When preparing your sauce mixture, you can add less chili oil and chili powder if you want a less spicy soup. Gochugaru is a Korean chili powder that is different from chili flakes. Gochugaru is a combination of smoky, spicy, and even a little sweet whereas the American chili flakes are just spicy. Some people like to add gochujang, a Korean chili paste, but I found that adding this ingredient makes the soup taste impure.
Don’t be scared of the bright red color! The soup actually looks much spicier than it looks. My parents are more sensitive to heat than I am and they did not think the soup was spicy.
While the soup is simmering away, blanch the leeks. The idea behind blanching the leeks is to remove the slimy quality. Immediately dunk in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Serving the soup with noodles is optional, you can choose to have it with rice instead or even a little bit of both. Sweet potato noodles look like cellophane noodles and are also known as Korean vermicelli. This is the same noodles found in the popular dish, Japchae.
Serve this soup during the summer or winter! It’s so tasty that it’s good all year round, no matter the weather. Yuk gae jang is all about taking a simple beef broth and developing it into a spicy, earthy soup, loaded with tender beef and slippery glass noodles. Don’t be scared of the spice, embrace it and trust me, you will love it!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.