The good news about Korean ox bone soup is that the recipe for it is easy to follow. The bad news, sort of, is that this dish takes a long time to cook. Called seollangtang in Korean, ox bone soup is a milky, white soup made of long-simmered ox leg bones. Many Korean cooks simmer the soup for at least eight hours. But the soup is at its best and thickest if you can simmer it for 10 hours. With this in mind, do not make this soup when you are pressed for time, stretched thin, or overbooked. Be ready to spend all day making this soup. To say that it's a commitment would be an understatement.
The finished product is well worth it, however. The aroma of seollangtang (also known as sulung tang in Korean) is rich and meaty, and the broth sticks to the roof of your mouth. Scrumptious!
You can serve the soup with just rice and kimchi, or you can make it with radish and add sliced brisket meat and noodles for an even more delicious meal. Seollangtang is usually served almost bland so that each person can add his or her own amount of salt, pepper, and scallions. The bland taste is likely a plus if you have the typical American or Western palette and can't tolerate spicy foods well.
- 2 pounds of ox bones and any attached meat (leg and knuckle bones)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 1/2 inch of ginger (thinly sliced)
- 1 pkg. Korean sweet potato noodles or Korean thin wheat noodles (dangmyun, cellophane, gooksu)
- Optional: 1 large Korean radish (peeled, halved, and sliced)
- Optional: brisket meat (cooked and thinly sliced)
- For serving: chopped scallions, sea salt, freshly ground pepper
Rinse and soak the bones for two hours in cold water. Discard the water.
Bring a large pot half-full of water to boil. Boil the bones for five minutes, remove from pot, and discard the water again.
Put ox bones in the large pot, and cover with a lot of water (~30 cups, 1.5 gallons, 8 quarts).
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a hard simmer, and cook for 1 hour.
Reduce heat to medium and a lower simmer. Then cook for 4 to 6 hours, skimming fat, foam, and anything else off the surface.
Add ginger and garlic (and radish, if using), and simmer for another 1 to 2 hours.
Remove bones and seasonings (and radish, if using), and skim fat again before serving.
For a perfectly smooth broth, cool soup, and skim fats when they rise.
Serve with rice (and noodles and meat, if using) and small bowls of sea salt, pepper, and chopped scallions for seasoning to allow your dinner mates to spice the food as they see fit.