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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.