Korean Beef Bone Soup (Seolleongtang)

설렁탕

Korean Ox Bone Soup, also known as Seolleongtang, is a delicious and comforting soup made by boiling ox leg bones for a very long time. This slow cooking process turns the broth into a creamy, milky-white liquid that's packed with rich beef flavor. It's a popular dish in Korea, especially during cold weather. The bones are simmered until they become smooth, and all the marrow inside them disappears. This soup is not only tasty but also believed to have health benefits for your bones and immune system.

Unlocking the Secret of Seolleongtang

Seolleongtang is a traditional Korean soup that has its origins in Korean cuisine. The dish's history dates back to the Joseon Dynasty making it a part of Korea's culinary heritage. 

The name "Seolleongtang" is derived from the Korean words "seol," which means "snow," and "tang," which means "soup" or "broth." The name likely reflects the soup's milky, white appearance.

Originally, seolleongtang was considered a humble dish, often consumed by commoners. It was a way to make use of every part of the animal and create a nourishing meal from inexpensive ingredients. Over time, it gained popularity and is now enjoyed by people of all social backgrounds in Korea.

Seolleongtang is typically served with a bowl of rice and various condiments like kimchi, salted shrimp, or shredded radish kimchi to enhance its flavor.

It is a beloved comfort food in Korea, especially during cold winter months, as it is both warming and filling. Today, you can find seolleongtang in traditional Korean restaurants and even some fast-food chains that specialize in this classic dish.

You can prepare a hearty batch with just a few dollars' worth of beef bones and stash some away in your freezer. Plus, the creamy broth can serve as a fantastic base for various Korean soups, expanding your culinary repertoire. 

Is Seolleongtang Healthy?

  • Supports Bone Health: The calcium and collagen in Seolleongtang can contribute to maintaining strong and healthy bones.

  • Boosts the Immune System: The rich broth of Seolleongtang contains various nutrients, minerals and amino acids that can support digestion and a healthy immune system.

Consider using organic bones. Toxins tend to accumulate in fatty tissues and marrow, and bones from animals treated with hormones and antibiotics may compromise the nutritive quality of your Seolleongtang. Prioritize organic sources for a cleaner, more nourishing soup.

Use oxtails and marrow bones

Traditionally, Seolleongtang includes cow's feet and knuckles, but sourcing these bones outside of Asian butchers can be challenging. Instead, use oxtails and marrow bones which work just as well.  

Extended Boiling for Creamy Perfection

The longer you leave it, the better it becomes. If you're wondering how to manage this long cooking time, especially overnight, use an electric stove. You can set your pot of bones and water to simmer, cover it, and let it work its magic. Come morning, add water as needed and continue tending to the broth throughout the day. You end up with a stunningly silky, milky-white soup.

INGREDIENTS

Discover each ingredient and where to buy it by clicking on the ingredient links below!

Read more about seolleongtang here

Ingredients

  • 5 ½ pounds oxtails, organic 
  • 1 pound beef marrow bones, organic
  • 1 pound beef brisket, organic, trimmed

To Serve

  • Rice or thin wheat noodles (somyeon)
  • Chopped scallions
  • Korean radish kimchi (kkakdugi)
  • Kosher salt

Method

Place all of the bones in a large bowl and wash them under cold water. Fill the bowl up with cold water until the bones are fully submerged. Place the brisket in another bowl and cover with cold water. Allow the bones and brisket to soak at room temperature for 3 hours, to draw out the blood. Drain and rinse the bones well again.

Place the bones in a large pot with enough water to cover, and then set over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Place a large colander in a sink and drain the bones, discarding the hot water and scum. Repeat once more.

Meanwhile, place the brisket into a medium pot with enough water to cover, then set over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove the meat using tongs and allow to cool. Once cooled, slice the meat thinly on a cutting board, wrap with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Once you have boiled and drained your bones for a second time, rinse the bones with cold water and clean the pot well. Place the clean bones in the clean pot and fill with water to cover the bones by about 3 inches. Put back on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Skim off any fat, scum, and other impurities. Cook at a low boil until the liquid is reduced by a third. You must continuously boil—not simmer—the bones to get a milky white broth, so adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a low active boil.

Add water to keep the liquid at the same level, and continue boiling, repeating this process of skimming and adding water as necessary, for 12 hours (or longer—it just keeps getting better and better!), until the broth is very white, creamy, and thick.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then place the pot in the fridge overnight. In the morning, use a spoon to remove the layer of fat that solidifies on top of the soup. Carefully remove the bones using a large slotted spoon, and strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer. Pick out any pieces of meat and reserve.

Return the soup to the pot and reheat over high heat. Stir in the sliced brisket and any of the reserved oxtail meat. Pour the soup into bowls and serve with rice, chopped scallions, radish kimchi, and kosher salt on the side.

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