A Spicy Korean Oxtail, that is what I’m sometimes called. And like me, oxtails are one of those amazing ingredients that get classified in the “I don’t know what to do with it” or “Oh gross, that sounds like butt” categories. A great damn shame…This soup is an essential must-cook for anyone that loves one or all of the following: miso soup, french onion soup, braised oxtails, offal, and kimchi jigae.
Oxtail, a humble ingredient with a view of the cow’s rear end for its entire existence, is one of my favorites and dear to me. For as long as I can remember , I’ve always loved nibbing on oxtail meat off the bone and slurping up any soup – Western or Asian – from which oxtails were used to develop the broth. Oxtails are carriers of incredibly rich and unctous flavor, making them the perfect base vessel for soups. Any lover of a good French Onion soup will know that oxtails comprise its foundation. I am not only a fan of using oxtail for broths, but for eating too.
This Korean soup is truly comfort in a bowl for me and what I consider as breakfast. When I’m home, my mom is always cooking up a storm of Korean country-style soups that sing to my stomach. Koreans are crazy for their soups and for good reason. A pantry of ingredients like oxtail, Doenjang (a form of Korean fermented Miso), Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), kim-chi, red pepper flakes, tofu, seaweed, dried anchovies, dried baby shrimps, and garlic – all jam packed with flavorful life – make Korean soups so delicious.
This Korean Oxtail and Cabbage soup not only contains a portion of these flavor profiles, but also includes one of my most favorite food textures – braised/stewed cabbage. I love the stringy aspect of the cabbage as it becomes ultra soft when cooked in a broth. And even more importantly, the cabbage is the sponge of the vegetable kingdom and soaks in whatever flavors it is cooked in with incredible precision.
Spicy Korean Oxtail and Cabbage Soup Recipe
Oxtail is truly Christmas morning, on repeat. You can use the same batch of oxtails multiple times to prepare gallons upon gallons of broth, before the oxtails lose steam.
Ingredients for the oxtail stock:
- 6 pieces of oxtail
- 1 whole onion, peeled and chopped in half
- 3 carrot sticks, peeled and chopped in half
- 1 celery stalk, chopped in half
- 8 garlic cloves
- Salt / pepper
- Olive oil
Ingredients for the Korean Oxtail and Cabbage soup
- 10 cups of oxtail stock
- 1/2 head of cabbage, torn apart but keep the cabbage leaves long
- 5 tablespoons of Doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 hot pepper, sliced
- Salt / pepper
Let’s first prepare the oxtail stock. I like to season the oxtail pieces heavily with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. In a 375 degree oven, pop in the oxtails and allow them to roast up for 20 minutes. This will add even more ox-beefy flavor to the stock base and create a sizzling char. When roasted to a pop, place the oxtails in a large stock pot along with the onion, carrots, and celery. Over high heat, bring the entire mixture to a boil. Once there, turn the heat down to simmer and allow the stock to mingle over the low flame for at least a couple of hours. Strain the stock and save the oxtail and veggies to whip up another batch of oxtail stock.
As any great country-style soup, this is simple and straight-forward to prepare. Place the oxtail stock into a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the Doenjang so it is fully incorporated into the broth. Then add the garlic cloves and sliced hot pepper. Allow this is gently simmer together for 30 minutes, so the flavors marry.
Add the cabbage into the pot. Like spinach, the cabbage will cook down so be mindful to leave plenty of room in the pot in order to initially add all the cabbage. Place over medium-low heat, cover with a lid, and allow the soup to cook for 30 minutes. After this time, check the seasoning and the cabbage texture. I like mine extra soggy! Keep over the heat if you want to cook the cabbage down further. But make sure to serve warm and with a side of rice. Now, this is breakfast.