What is Korean Oxtail Soup?

The oxtail must be removed from excess fat.

Members of all beef-eating cultures have eaten oxtail in one form or another throughout the history of civilization, not content to let a valuable livelihood go to waste. While widely considered to be part of the animal’s “guts” waste, one of the longest-lasting and internationally acclaimed oxtail oxtail recipes in 2011 is Korean oxtail soup. Rich in marrow meat flavor, a distinctive broth is dotted with over-fat beef and just a few other simple ingredients like onions, radishes, garlic and ginger.

Onion and garlic can be added to Korean oxtail soup.

Known in Korea as gori gomtang or just gom gook, Korean oxtail soup only requires a few normally inexpensive ingredients to prepare. It also requires a careful attitude and up to five hours of preparation time. By then, oxtails – typically cow’s tails in 2011 – won’t be soft enough to fall off the bones. Some chefs remove the meat from the bones before serving, while others just leave the meat still stuck to the bones and let the diners decide the best way to handle it.

Before Korean oxtail soup begins to form, excess fat must be cut off the oxtail, then submerged in water and left to soak for about an hour, according to the Chowhound website. Then, according to the website’s recipe, the washed tails are placed in a pot of fresh water and cooked with salt, onion, ginger, and garlic for up to four hours. Several recipes online advise cooks to regularly clean the top of the broth to remove bubbling fat.

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Korean oxtail soup often includes not only chopped radish but also a seasoned radish side dish known as ggak ddoogi. This seasons the radish with ingredients like red pepper powder, minced garlic, rice wine, ginger powder, and salt before adding it to the soup. A typical garnish for Korean oxtail soup is chopped green onions, which perhaps adds the only color to the dish. Some also add noodles to make the soup a healthy meal.

On the other side of the globe, another oxtail soup has evolved into quite a different subject. Popular in Jamaica is an oxtail stew that blanch and then fry the oxtail pieces in a skillet with bacon before a period of sautéing covered in a bath of tomato, white and green chives, garlic and carrots. To make the meat specially sealed, a layer of flour or cornmeal can be spread before it reaches the skillet. Toward the end of a four- or five-hour boil, some cooks add beans and herbs to turn the soup into a stew.

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