Sullungtang: Hearty Korean Beef Soup

Been away from the blog for a bit because we were in the middle of a move (hello Santa Cruz!) but we’ll be posting more frequently now that we’re settled. Starting with this recipe post on one of my all-time favorite Korean meals – sullungtang! Sullungtang is the Korean version of beef soup, it’s also a hangover cure!

Sullungtang is a traditional Korean beef noodle soup that’s served unseasoned, with sea salt and black pepper provided at the table for everyone to season to their taste. It’s served with a heap of chopped scallions and usually a side of kimchee and gakdukki (kimchi radish). Unfortunately, making the soup is quite a process and this is probably an undertaking best left for a lazy, rainy weekend day when you’ll be around the house all day.

Korean Sullungtang

Sullungtang starts with beef bones – shanks and knee bones that are available in every Korean grocery store, and probably a lot of Asian grocery stores as well. I don’t know enough about beef butchery to recommend a non-Asian grocery store way of getting these bones, but I’m sure there are resources out there. The Korean grocery store near us sells them in 4-5 lb bags.

Once you have the bones, soak them in a bowl of water for about half an hour – this’ll draw out most of the blood.

Then place the bones in a big pot (the bigger the better) and bring it to a boil for about 15 minutes. You’ll see a lot of nasty impurities come out of the bones. Throw out this water, rinse the bones clean, and return to the huge pot.

Impurities from the first round of boiling the bones

Sullungtang is usually served with thinly sliced beef brisket but I usually get whatever big hunk of beef is on sale at the grocery store – this time it was top round I believe. I hacked this into a couple of big pieces, about an inch and a half thick, then put in a bowl of water for an hour or so, again to draw out the blood.

 

Once the bones are rinsed, clean out the big pot you’re using and return the bones with as much water as it can hold. 

Now, usually making this soup is a huge chore because we don’t have any huge stock pots, which means I actually split up the bones between two pots and have two pots full of water going. Very inefficient, very annoying, so this time at this point in the cooking process, I decided to run to Target to look for a bigger pot.

Turns out they had a 20 qt stock pot for about $60, or this 30 qt behemoth of a seafood steamer for $30. We bought the behemoth. Once you have rinsed bones in your big pot, add about 2.5 to 3 gallons of water. At this point, we’re going to bring it all to a boil, then leave the heat on medium and let it run at a healthy boil for about four hours. You’re looking to get a milky white broth, and that’ll only happen if you have it on pretty decent heat for a long time. If you leave it at a low simmer, you won’t get the milky goodness.

Sullungtang, or Korean beef soup, is something I can happily eat every day for weeks at a time, so I usually freeze about 2 cup portions of the broth in these things. 

I don’t always add noodles, but when I do, it’s usually the thinner wheat noodles sold at Asian places. Cook them separately, then place in a bowl before ladling the soup over everything. 

Chopped scallions definitely a must. 

Oh right, the beef. Once the huge pot of water is boiling, add the beef and leave in the boiling broth for about an hour and a half or until tender. Then remove, let cool, and slice thinly. 

This is what a bowl would look like pre-broth. 

And once everything’s done, ladle the hot broth over the beef and noodles, and top with a generous heap of scallions. Enjoy your Korean beef soup! It’s a healthier way to enjoy beef and beef soup!

 

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One thought on “Sullungtang: Hearty Korean Beef Soup

  1. This is my favorite soup and food from Korea. I lived there for 13 years and miss getting soulungtang and the people so very much.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe

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