OXTAIL SOUP (GORI GOMTANG)
If you’re in the mood for a very comforting soup, try this. It’s a tad time intensive, but very easy to make. I suggest you make it the day before you serve it, because like many soups, it tastes better with time. Another bonus is that the fat will float to the surface and solidify in a sheet while it’s stored in the fridge; to remove it, all you have to do is lift it off. The soup is also the base for Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup.
- 1.5–2 kg (31⁄2–4 lb) meaty oxtails, rinsed
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 200 g (7 oz) Korean white radish (mu) or mooli, peeled, halved lengthways and cut crossways into 5 mm (1⁄4 in) slices
- Put the oxtails in a large pot and cover with very cold water. Leave to soak for 1 hour, draining and replacing the water every 20 minutes. (This helps to remove any excess blood.)
- Rinse and drain the oxtails, cover with 2 litres (31⁄2 pints) cold water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5–10 minutes until a lot of scum and foam rise to the water’s surface.
- Transfer the oxtails to a large bowl, rinse well and set aside. Discard the water from the pot and thoroughly wash the pot. Return the oxtails to the clean pot.
- Add 4 litres (7 pints) water to the pot and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 2 hours, regularly skimming off any scum or fat that rises to the surface. If at any point the oxtails poke out from the liquid, add enough boiling water to cover. Add the garlic and continue simmering for a further 30 minutes, skimming and watching for bobbing oxtails until the liquid has reduced by about half (to 2 litres/ 31⁄2 pints) and the meat is falling off the bones. Discard the garlic and transfer the oxtails to a bowl, cover and keep warm. Skim off any remain- ing fat from the pot (some beads of fat are fine).
- Add the radish to the pot and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, if you prefer to remove and shred the meat from the oxtails rather than serve as is with the bones, do so now. Divide the oxtails or just the shredded meat and radish among 4–6 bowls and top with the broth. Serve the soup with rice, kimchi, the spring onions and salt and pepper so your guests can season the soup to their liking.
The initial boiling and rinsing of the oxtails reduces the amount of impurities and fat released into the broth, making it very clean looking. You can skip this process, but you’ll need to do more skimming while the soup simmers.