Thursday, October 28, 2010

Korean Oxtail Soup (Gom Tang)

Korean Oxtail Soup, served with coarse salt.

We bought some oxtails one day. Now what?

We have used oxtail in applications that nod to Jamaica (Jamaican Oxtail Stew) and to Mexico (Shredded Beef and Tripe Tacos), but more often than not, we fall back to making our favorites, like a simple Clear Oxtail Soup, or Kare-Kare (Philippine Oxtail Peanut Stew) -- OMGTHEDELICIOUSNESS!!!

With oxtails, it is always the "Mendy's question".**

See, we're so enamoured with kare-kare and bulalo that we think them the apotheoses of oxtail, oxtail the best that it can be.

But, perhaps, this time we should made something totally new.

** Seinfeld reference

Okay then.

Well, we didn't venture too far when we made this Korean Oxtail Soup. I used the instructions from My Korean Cuisine as my guide.

First, I placed the meat in cold water and brought the water to a boil. Once the exterior of the meat has changed color, I drained the pot.

After draining, the meat is rinsed to get rid of any residual coagulated blood.

I put the meat back into the pot (which I also rinsed out), covered with cold water, and brought the mixture to a boil. The pot is kept at a light boil.

Oh, that pouch in there?

That pouch contained garlic, ginger, and black peppercorns.

Some more components: onions and daikon radish.

After about 2 hours of boiling, I added the onions and daikon. Oh yeah, look at all that fat on top. Try to skim that off every so often.

I boiled the pot for a couple of hours more.

At this point, one can make the broth ultra-milky. My Korean Cuisine recommends removing all the solids from the soup, separating the meat from the bone, rinsing the bones clean and adding only the bones back into the pot, then boiling for more than 14 hours!

Well, I had already invested about 5 hours into this soup, and being lazy as I am, I wasn't in the mood for picking meat from bone, so my Korean Oxtail Soup stopped here.

This soup is usually served unseasoned, with the diner adding salt at the table. I simply added some green onions for some freshness and crunch.

I must say I cannot help comparing this soup to our standard bulalo (Philippine Beef Bone Soup) or clear soup. I found this oxtail soup quite rich -- and I'm afraid that is not exactly a compliment. That is, it seemed to me slightly too bovine-y, as if the oxtails haven't transcended their nature and reached their apotheosis as food. The soup sits heavily in the mouth and on the tongue, and I felt that I needed to rinse the soup out after I finished eating.

Maybe I needed to eat it with some kimchi, which alas, we didn't have at that time.

Perhaps I'll reserve judgment until after I taste a "professionally"-made soup. But, in this instance, this soup was nice enough, but I'm afraid my heart still belongs to our favorites.

For a guide to making Korean Oxtail Soup:
My Korean Cuisine: Korean Oxtail Soup

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  1. Cooking the soup for 14 hours sound like something they would do in Egypt; they put the fava beans on the stove at very low heat and it cooks all night till it is soft the next day to be sold in the stalls; love that soup and the bag you used for the seasonings; did not look like cheesecloth, I wonder where you got it?

  2. tasteofbeirut:
    Normally I wouldn't mind the long-cooking, since it's hands-off anyway. But I was too lazy to separate all the meat from the bones! =)

    Oh, the bag I used for the seasonings. I bought it from the Japanese $2 store (everything in the store for $2). They may have it in some Chinese stores as well. Anyway, I believe they're sold as tea bags... or as spice bags.

    Here is a sample of what they look like in their package:

    They come in various sizes/brands.

  3. this is awesome. We were at a Korean restaurant in NYC recently that had these giant wooden vats of ox-bone simmering soup at the back. The place was full of dreadfully hungover-looking Koreans who were ignoring everything else on the menu and going for this. Next time I'm hungover I'm planning to have some of this around as the soup-eaters seemed remarkably spritely again as they left the restaurant!

  4. Jonny:
    Haha, I don't think I need to wait to be hung over. There's a place here that seems to specialize in oxtail soup, so my next bowl will be at that restaurant.

  5. I'm surprised that the soup turned out so milky white like a Cantonese fish soup. It looks delicious!

  6. Chinese Soup Pot:
    It wasn't super milky white, actually. It may be the lighting that makes it look whiter than it was. =)


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