Whenever I go grocery shopping, I often let supply—and whatever catches my eye—dictate what’s for dinner. Every now and then I see fresh, yummy-looking oxtails. That’s when I make Korean-style oxtail soup.
Oxtail by nature is very fatty, but the bone and meat produce a very flavorful broth. One needs to cook it for a long time in order to get the meat to fall off the bone, as well as to extract the most flavors out of the bone and into the soup. It’s rich, smooth, and comforting, especially on a cold winter’s day.
I’ve actually prepared this once with a pressure cooker and it shortened the cooking time considerably—less than an hour to get the meat to fall off the bone. However, in the traditional stovetop method, expect to simmer the soup for 2 hours at least.
Probably the hardest part of this recipe is waiting, but I guarantee it’s worth it.
Mama Sophia’s Korean-style Oxtail Soup (kogi-gohm-tahng) Recipe
Soup bones (Optional: for a richer, creamier tasting soup)
Chinese or Korean Radish (coincidentally called “moo” in Korean)
White or yellow onion (1-2 medium sized)
Green Onions (bunch for soup; set some aside for garnish)
Garlic (1 bulb or a handful of cloves, depending on preference)
Salt and Pepper
1) Soak oxtails in pot of cold water for 10 minutes. Change water and soak for another 10 minutes. Goal is to get rid of excess blood to ensure a cleaner product.
2) After soaking, set pot of water with oxtails (and soup bones) to boil. Fill up pot so that it’s about 2 to 3 inches above the oxtails. Slice onions and add into pot. Skim off any residue and excess fat that floats to the top. Let boil for 10 minutes, then turn down heat to medium and simmer for about an hour or so. Keep an eye on water levels to make sure it doesn’t get too low. If it does, add more water.
3) Peel and cut the radish into big chunks and add to soup. Add minced garlic and green onion cut in big pieces diagonally (about 1.5 to 2 inch pieces).
4) After about 1.5 to 2 hours, the meat should be fork-tender and nearly falling off bone. Soup is considered ready to serve at this point.
5) Presentation: Typically, it’s just the oxtail joints served whole with the broth and finely chopped green onion, and salt and pepper on the side. Don’t forget the bowl of steamed rice.
You might choose to chop the radish into smaller pieces before serving in the soup or discard altogether. The radish has immense flavor from being cooked in the broth.
As for the oxtail, you might choose to separate the meat and serve without the bone/cartilage—although some might argue that eating off the bone is the best part. You can discard the onion and garlic that were already cooked in the soup.
1) It is traditional to under-season or not season the soup before serving and to let the person decide on how s/he might like the soup. The panchan (side dishes) that are served with the soup will add salt and/or spiciness as well. I like eating ggak-doo-ghee (radish kimchee) with my oxtail soup.
2) Sometimes I like use the oxtail broth for dduk gook (rice dumpling stew). The oxtail soup broth makes it a richer, almost creamier experience than traditional dduk gook made with beef shank.
3) The broth is also good for cooking frozen, premade Russian dumplings (pelmeni). Total decadence.