Gomtang aka Korean Beef Bone Soup

The life-healing, good-for-you soup from my Korean American childhood. Gomtang (aka Korean Beef Bone Soup) will cure all your ailments in one delicious bowl!

When I was a little girl, there always seemed to be a big pot of soup bubbling on the stovetop. Funny looking soup with knobby bones and gristly tendon. Bone Soup, as Halmoni called it, would cure you of any ailments.

Now, if you’re wondering why there’s another Bone Soup recipe on the blog — yes, I do love bone soup. If California bloggers can have multiple recipes for grain bowls, I think I can do the same for Bone Soup, right? 😉

Gomtang is the universal, catch-all name for beef bone soup in Korean. Naturally, Korean Oxtail Soup is also a Gomtang (Khori Gomtang, actually, which meals Tail Bone Soup). But this recipe differs in that the soup is made from bones alone (no meaty oxtails).

This Gomtang recipe calls for kneecaps and beef bones. And lots of chewy tendon for good measure. All these treasures can be found in the freezer section at any Korean grocery store.

I was raised to believe in the magical healing properties of Gomtang. While we drank our bowls of soup, Halmoni recited the many reasons why soup, made from bones, was better for you.

All those vitamins and minerals, leached out from the bones. All that good-for-you collagen and tendon, making your hair and skin look better. Better still, bone soup could cure a host of negative ills: sickness, lack of appetite, and overall general malaise.

And just like magic, Bone Soup always managed to make me feel better.

The secret to good Korean Beef Bone Soup lies in parboiling the bones. This is the secret for a lot of Asian soups, actually. Parboiling removes all the gunky impurities, leaving behind a clear and clean-tasting stock. Parboiling also gives strength to the bones, imparting a delicious flavor that cannot be replicated.

It will be tempting to skip parboiling the bones, but trust me — don’t skip it!

How to make Gomtang aka Korean Beef Bone Soup:

Cover bones in cold water, just enough to cover, and let sit for 1 hour. Blood and fat particles will leach out. Drain the water and rinse the bones.

Now it’s time to parboil the bones. Cover with cold water and boil at high heat for 5 minutes. Scum and other impurities will rise to the surface.

Drain the pot. Wash the pot thoroughly with soap and water. Then wash the bones with cold water, one by one, until the bones look clean. Place clean bones into the clean soup pot.

Add cold water and 2 large, peeled onions. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. This is not a roiling boil with big bubbles breaking at the surface; this is a vigorous simmer with lots of small bubbles popping up all over. After 3 hours of vigorous simmering, add beef tendon and simmer until soft, about 1 more hour.

Discard onion and beef bones. Remove beef tendon and slice into bite-sized pieces when cool enough to handle. Add tendon back into the soup pot.

Serve soup with a generous amount of chopped green onion and freshly cracked black pepper. Rice and kimchi make perfect accompaniments. Happy eating, friends!

Gomtang aka Korean Beef Bone Soup

The life-healing, good-for-you soup from my Korean American childhood. Gomtang (aka Korean Beef Bone Soup) will cure all your ailments in one delicious bowl!
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time4 hrs
Cooling Time (optional)8 hrs
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: Beef Bone Soup, Gomtang
Servings: 12

Equipment

  • Large stock pot (the largest one you have, with room for at least 20 cups liquid)

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs frozen beef bones (marrow)
  • 2 lbs frozen beef kneecaps
  • 2 lbs frozen beef tendon
  • 2 large onions (peeled but kept intact for easier removal)
  • 20 cups cold water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp salt (I use sea salt; season to taste if you like it less salty)

Instructions

  • Cover bones in cold water, just enough to cover, and let sit for 1 hour. Blood and fat particles will leach out. Drain the bloody water and rinse the bones under cold running water.
    beef bones covered in water
  • Now it's time to parboil the bones. Cover with cold water (again), just enough to cover. Bring to a boil and vigorously boil for 5 minutes. Scum and other impurities will rise to the surface.
    parboiled beef bones in soup pot
  • Drain the pot. Wash the pot thoroughly with soap and water. Then wash the bones with cold water, one by one, until the bones look clean. Place clean bones into the clean soup pot.
    cleaned parboiled bones in colander
  • Add 20 cups of cold water, and 2 large, peeled onions to the clean soup pot and clean, parboiled beef bones. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a vigorous simmer. This is not a roiling boil with big bubbles breaking at the surface; this is a vigorous simmer with lots of small bubbles popping up all over.
    beef bones and peeled onions in soup pot
  • After 3 hours of vigorous simmering (covered), add beef tendon and simmer until soft, about 1 more hour (covered). Depending on the thickness of the tendon, this can take longer so poke with a chopstick to check for tenderness. The tendon should be soft enough so that there's some resistance, but not too much.
  • After a total of 4 hours cooking time (3 hrs for the bones, 1 more hour with added tendon), the soup should look milky. Discard onion and beef bones. Remove beef tendon and slice into bite-sized pieces when cool enough to handle. Add tendon back into the soup pot.
  • If possible, refrigerate overnight. This will allow the fat to harden. The next day, remove the hardened fat and discard. (This is an optional step but will result in a less fatty soup.)
  • Season soup with salt. Then serve with a generous amount of chopped green onion, freshly cracked black pepper, and additional salt for people to add at the table. Rice and kimchi make perfect accompaniments.
    bowl of beef bone soup (gomtang) with kimchi and green onions on the side

Notes

*1  Beef bones and tendon can be found in the freezer section at Korean grocery stores.  It’s ok to cook them in their frozen state.  
*3   I like to pour the contents of the soup pot through a large colander.  I wash the pot thoroughly with soap and water because there is usually residual scum sticking to the sides of the pot.  I also wash the bones under cold running water while rubbing the bones with my hands to make sure there are no greasy particles sticking to the bones.  
*6  While the beef bones simmer, keep the soup covered with a lid.  Check from time to time to make sure that the bones are covered with water.  If the water evaporates too much, add more hot water (from a tea kettle) until the bones are covered again.  
All Recipes, Beef, Korean, Potluck, Soup
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