Whenever my family and I came home after a trip, we would immediately go to a Korean restaurant offering Korean ox bone soup. There was just something so comforting about having a piping hot bowl of bone soup. This soup is simmered over a long period of time and served with rice, spicy kimchi, scallions, and salt. Although I always eat this at restaurants, I decided to take on the challenge and prepare it at home. It can't be that hard, right?
Korean Ox Bone Soup
- 2 ½ lb ox leg bones
- 2 lb beef flank brisket, or round
- 3 ½ quarts water
- 1 large onion peeled, kept whole
- 4 garlic cloves
- Japanese somen optional
- green onions for garnish
- salt to taste
- Soak the ox leg bones and the beef flank, brisket, or round in cold water for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse off any bone chips.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of about 3 ½ quarts of water to a hard boil. Put the bones and beef carefully into the water. Bring back to a boil and continue to cook on high heat for 10 minutes, uncovered. Drain the pot, throwing away the dirty water but reserving the bones and beef. Rinse the beef and bones in cold water and drain. Clean the pot, rinsing off the fat and scum.
- Using the same pot, fill it with 3 ½ quarts of water. Add the bones, beef, whole onion, and whole garlic cloves. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, covered. Once the broth reaches a boil, about 25 minutes later, reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer the broth for 3 hours.
- Remove the beef flank from the soup and let cool. Add more water to the pot as it will have reduced. Bring back to a boil, then simmer for another 3 hours.
- Add more water to the pot and bring back to a boil. Simmer again for another 3 hours. Continue to cook the broth, adding water every 3 hours if needed, until the soup has achieved a white, milky color. Once the soup is ready, cool and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
- Remove the soup from the refrigerator and skim off the hardened fat on top. Bring back to heat.
- Slice the beef across the grain, about ⅛ inch thick. Add back to the soup to reheat.
- If serving with noodles, cook the somen according to the directions on the package. Drain.
- To serve, portion the noodles among 6 bowls. Ladle the soup with the beef per bowl. Serve with green onions, salt, pepper, kimchi, and rice. Allow the guests to season their own soup according to their taste.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Korean ox bone soup, also known as seolleongtang, takes hours and hours to cook. Don't worry! Your most important job is just to wait.
There are, however, several steps you have to take before the bones can simmer. We want to remove all the impurities from the bones to have a clean-tasting broth. The first step is to soak the bones in cold water for 20 minutes. The fat will rise to the top and the blood will slowly trickle out.
Give the bones a good rinse and place them in a pot with clean water. The next step is the initial boiling in which the bones are boiled in water for 10 minutes. You want to get rid of all that scum so give the bones another good wash.
Now it's finally time to cook the soup. Simmer the bones with clean water, beef, onion, and garlic. After three hours you can see the soup developing color. Remove the beef flank and continue to cook the bones.
If your soup starts to reduce too quickly, simply add more water. I didn't say exactly how long the soup cooks for because this can vary depending on how high your heat is. Ideally, you want the soup to be barely simmering. It can take anywhere from 12 hours to 24 hours - yes 24 hours! As soon as the Korean ox bone soup achieves the milky white color, it's ready.
Chill the soup, allowing the fat to harden. Skim the fat and reheat the soup.
At this point, you can serve the soup just as is or cook somen noodles to add to the soup. Traditionally this soup is served with the condiments on the side along with the seasonings. If you want the true Korean experience, serve the ox bone soup with kkakdugi, a spicy Korean radish, kimchi, scallions, and sea salt.
After many, many hours, I'm proud to say my Korean ox bone soup came out just right! Simple with only a few ingredients, this soup is able to achieve great flavors. Good thing I made a large batch to last me the entire week!
For more Asian soup inspiration check out this Asian style tomato soup with udon noodles!