Yukgaejang (육개장) Korean Spicy Beef and Vegetable Soup

This weekend I decided to take a trip to my favourite part of Toronto to pick up ingredients for a reader requested recipe!

As you may have guessed it – Koreatown is my favourite part of Toronto.  When I first moved to this city, I was freshly out of Korea and I found the small stretch of Bloor Street from Christie to Bathurst to be a great comfort.  Cramped lunch places,  all-you-can-eat barbeque restaurants, soju bars, and noraebangs.  Toronto’s Koreatown has a lot of familiarities.

My good friend Steve requested about a month ago that I try out a recipe for one of our staple Korean lunches.  It was Steve that got me hooked on the yukgaejang and I think I probably had it every day for a solid three months during lunch hour.  I’d return after lunch to teach classes with a burning red and swollen mouth.

Anyway, there’s this weird brown, stemmy ingredient I put on my list of ingredients to pick up in Koreatown.  I do remember having it in this soup.  I had no idea what the hell “fernbrake” was when I was eating it in Korea and I’m still not sure I know what it is now even after using it in this recipe.  It was hard to find, it was expensive, and I’m not sure it would be widely available in North American grocery stores, but it added a lot of flavour to the broth.  I wouldn’t skip on this ingredient when making this soup, so rummage through your local Korean grocery and make this purchase even if it does cost you $10/handful.  Also, keep in mind that the dried stuff expands quite a bit.

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Dried fernbrake before.
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Soaked fernbrake after 6 hours.

I based my recipe on this one from Maangchi, a beloved Korean cooking website of mine, making only a few slight changes.  Please note that my recipe is very spicy.  If you would like something a bit milder, leave out the red pepper flakes.

***

My dearest readers!  Got a certain soup on your mind?  Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to try out a recipe!  I’d LOVE to add a reader requested recipe column.

  • 1.5 lbs beef brisket
  • 14 cups water
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 12 cloves garlic (4 smashed, 8 minced)
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced lengthwise, cut into thirds
  • 5 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 cups soaked *fernbrake (gosari), cut into thirds
  • 3 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper

*If using dried fernbrake, be sure to soak in cold water for about 6 hours ahead of time

Bring water to a boil in large soup pot and add onion, peppercorns, smashed garlic cloves, and brisket to make a broth.  Cover and boil for one hour.  Remove the meat when finished, set aside to cool, and slice or rip into thin pieces.  Take the onion, garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, and discard.

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Bring another medium sized pot of water to boil to blanch the fernbrake.  Add the fernbrake and boil for 20 minutes.  When finished, add the fernbrake to a bowl of cold water to cool.

Mix the pepper flakes, sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce, salt, and ground pepper together in a small bowl to make a pepper paste.  Mix the bean sprouts, fernbrake, green onions, minced garlic in a large bowl and stir in the pepper paste.

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Add the vegetable mixture, the chili powder, and the meat back into the broth and boil for 20-30 more minutes.

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Serve with a small portion of rice and a side of kimchi.

Serves 4 – 6.
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