Friday, February 17, 2012

Yuk Gae Jung

I think Yuk-Gae-Jung is easily my favorite Korean soup of all time. Comforting when your cold, sick, hungry, depressed... it solves it all for me!

It does take a lot of time for the flavors to simmer and meld together. The first time I tried, it felt very labor intensive. But now after making it several times, it feels easy, like second nature -- just like any favorite recipe you have. The nice thing is that you can make lots and save yourself cooking for the next couple of days. So it all works out. :)

It tends to be a little bit of an oily soup, especially on the top, but you can cut down the oil if you wish. Just make sure you roast the pepper flakes really well if you use less oil.

I first learned to make it from Maangchi a few years ago, but since then, I've really modified it quite a bit to fit my preferences -- and I think I finally have my own personal family recipe! I'm happy to share it with you.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 lbs beef flank or beef brisket
10-12 cups of water
1+1 tbsp of salt
6+6 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp beef stock or dashida (korean style)
1/2 cup +2 tbsp of hot pepper flakes (kochu garu)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp sesame oil
one good handful of fresh bean sprouts (kong)
1 cup of soft/boiled fern sprouts (kosari)
8-10 bunches of green onion (full bunches, not single stalks -- yes, that much!)
2 eggs
japchae noodle (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Into a large stock pot, put in water, beef, 1 tbsp salt, and 6 crushed (not minced) garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 1 hour.

2. You can buy already boiled kosari at the korean market. If you have dried ones, boil it in water at the same time as your beef stock so it is ready when the stock is done.

3. After one hour, remove the beef onto a plate and throw away any large garlic cloves left in the stock. Add 6 minced garlic cloves and bring to a gentle boil (medium-low heat). Add another tbsp salt and the beef stock. (I add beef stock because there is no bone in the meat to give the stock extra flavor).

4. Once the beef has cooled down. Slice the beef into 1/4 inch thick strips across the grain. If the beef is too wide, just divide it into 2 or 3 pieces before you start slicing. Add the beef to the pot.

5. In a fry pan, heat the olive oil and sesame oil on medium heat (dont use high heat or you risk burning your pepper flakes). Add 1/2 cup red pepper flakes and stir about 1 minute. The red color should get just a little darker and richer. Add the red pepper flake mixture to the pot. (Try not to breath in too much when you do this... the heat may hit the nerves in your nose and knock you back a bit! haha). Add 2 tbsp red pepper flakes directly into the pot to restore some of the spiciness. If you like really spicy yuk-gae-jung you can add even more. (Roasting removes the spicy heat and brings out flavor. If you add more flakes directly to the pot, you can add back the spiciness that you lost in the roasting process.)

6. Chop the kosari and all of the green onion into 2 inch pieces and add to the pot with the bean sprouts.

7. Scramble the eggs in a bowl. When the soup has a very gentle boil, pour the eggs into the soup. DO NOT stir the eggs into the soup or your soup will start to look cloudy. Just let the eggs fall into the soup and let it cook on its own.

8. If you like some noodle in your soup, you can add it at this time. An alternative is to boil them separately in another pot, rinse them thoroughly and add it to the individual bowls when you serve (so you don't add any extra starch to the soup).

9. Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes. Serve with rice and a smile. :)

Approx 8-10 servings.

Let me know how yours turns out, or what kind of modifications you made to fit your personal preferences. Ma-shi-gae-deu-say-yo!!! :)

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