Korean Oxtail Soup aka Kkori Gomtang

Milky stock.  Knobby bones.  Fatty meat. Chewy tendon.  Korean Oxtail Soup, or Kkori Gomtang, is the big pot of cozy that will point you towards home.  

**Thank you to Bessie Box for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.**

When I was a kid, my favourite soup was Kkori Gomtang, Korean Oxtail Soup.  Not chicken noodle soup.  Or tomato soup.  Instead, I loved my Korean grandmother’s soup made from bones and simmered in a giant pot on the stove.

I’d soak my rice in the soup and gnaw on the chewy bits of tendon. I’d slurp up the noodles and take bites of spicy kimchi on the side. And at the end of the meal, I’d pick up the bowl and drain the contents completely. SO GOOD.

Bone soup is good for you, Halmoni would say.  Better than soup made from meat and vegetables alone. Don’t waste any of it!      

What is Korean Oxtail Soup?

Korean Oxtail Soup is Korean soup made from oxtails.

Koreans call this soup, Kkori Gomtang. Which roughly translates, Tail Bone Soup.

The hallmarks of this delicious, healthy, good-for-you soup: clear, rich broth. Tender, fall off the bone chunks of oxtail. And plenty of green onions, sea salt, and black pepper!

Oxtails are great for long-simmered soups. All that connective tissue, tendon, cartilage, and muscle are FULL of flavor! When cooked for a long time, they break down and contribute to a full-bodied, rich stock. Plus the meat is very tender.

Ingredients:

Amazingly, Kkori Gomtang contains a short list of ingredients.

  • Oxtails. Look for meaty, thick oxtails. If you can, ask your butcher to cut the larger oxtails in half, for uniform sizing.
  • Onion. One large onion gives lots of flavor to the broth.
  • Daikon. Korean radish is large with light green coloring. Adds depth of flavor and heft. Doesn’t taste the same without this!
  • Green Onion. Add a small bowl of chopped green onion when serving. People can add how much they like at the table.
  • Noodles (optional). Koreans like to add Dang Myeon (sweet potato noodle) or Somyeon (thin wheat noodle) to this dish. Although it’s an optional ingredient, it adds a very pleasurable chew factor.

Why do I need to parboil the bones?

Koreans parboil meat bones when cooking soup.  Parboiling requires partially cooking the bones first and is an essential Korean method for making soup.

Parboiling results in a clean tasting, rich, more deeply flavored stock. Also, the broth will be clear with a beautiful milky hue.

When I first made oxtail soup, I was arrogant. Parboiling seemed like a nuisance and waste of time.  Why throw away that extra flavor?  What value was there in rinsing the meat bones and washing the pot?

A lot, I quickly learned. When I didn’t parboil the bones, the broth was flat and sadly lacking. All kinds of murky, unappetizing debris floated in the broth. It was a very sad experience.

All to say, parboiling the bones is the secret to good Korean soup.  😉

How to make Korean Oxtail Soup:

Cover (uncooked) oxtails with cold water.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours so that the blood will drain from the bones.  

Drain bloody water.  Return bones to the pot.  Cover with cold water.

Bring contents of the pot to a boil.  Simmer furiously for 3-5 minutes until the water looks dirty and scum rises to the surface.    

Drain soup.  Rinse bones thoroughly.  Wash the pot.  Return parboiled bones to the pot.  Add cold water, onion, and radish.

Bring to a boil then simmer until the meat is tender and the broth is milky-looking, about 2-3 hours. Now it’s time to eat. 🙂

pot of milky-looking oxtail soup
korean oxtail soup in black bowl with spoon on grey background

Korean Oxtail Soup or Kkori Gomtang

The Subversive Table
Milky stock. Knobby bones. Fatty meat. Chewy tendon. Korean Oxtail Soup is the big pot of cozy that will point you towards home.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Pre-soaking (to let blood out) 1 hr
Course Soup
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 lbs fresh beef oxtails
  • 1 lb radish peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 large onion peeled but kept whole (for easier removal)
  • 8 cups cold water (plus more to add when liquid reduces)
  • 1-2 tsps salt (or to taste)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 4 oz or large handful Dangmyeon (Korean sweet potato noodle), presoaked in cold water (optional)

Instructions
 

To Parboil Bones:

  • Cover (uncooked) oxtails with cold water. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours (or overnight) so that the blood will drain from the bones.
    oxtails draining in bloody water
  • Drain bloody water and rinse bones. Return bones to the pot. Cover with cold water.
    oxtails in pot with cold water
  • Bring contents of the pot to a boil. Let simmer furiously for 3-5 minutes until the water looks dirty and scum rises to the surface.
    scum and fat particles bubbling to the surface of large pot
  • Drain soup. Rinse bones thoroughly. Wash the pot.

To Make Soup:

  • Return parboiled bones to the pot. Add cold water, onion, and radish.
    oxtails in pot with onion and daikon, covered with water
  • Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer with the lid partially on/off. The soup is done when the meat is tender and the broth is milky-looking, about 2-3 hours. Add water from time to time, making sure the liquid doesn’t reduce too much. The bones should always be covered with liquid.
    pot of milky-looking oxtail soup
  • Remove onion with a slotted spoon. If using Dangmyeon, add drained, presoaked noodles and cook until clear and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add salt to taste and stir thoroughly. Add green onion (you can also serve the green onion at the table) and serve immediately with rice and kimchi.
    korean oxtail soup in black bowl with spoon on grey background
Keyword Korean, Oxtail, Soup

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