A Year to Learn Korean Cooking: Yukgaejang

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Today let’s learn about cooking yukgaejang 육개장 at home! Yukgaejang is a filling spicy beef soup that includes scallions and vegetables. This delicious soup is one you will want to make in large batches to have during the cold, winter day.

About the South of Seoul “A Year to Learn Korean Cooking’ Series

If you are familiar with this series, skip ahead to the goodness of Yukgaejang. Many of us live in South Korea for only a year. However, time flies past faster than we can imagine. At South of Seoul, we decided to create a simple series that will offer 2-4 dishes to learn each month so that when you leave South Korea you have a slew of new dishes you feel comfortable making anywhere.

This series is a collaboration with Kimchi Rednecks. In 2020 they created the first blog in this series Online Resources for Learning to Cook Korean Food. These two love to have adventures in the kitchen and share the results with their community. Be sure to follow Kimchi Rednecks on YouTube for other great videos about living life in South Korea.

yukgaejang

About Yukgaejang

Yukgaejang 육개장 is a delicious beef soup with a hit of spice that will comfort you in the cold winters and energize you in the summer. This spicy beef soup includes vegetables such as gosari 고사리 (also known as bracken fern or fernbrake), scallions 대파, sliced onion, dangmyeon noodles (noodles made from sweet potato), taro stems 토란대, mushrooms, and mung bean sprouts. You can choose to use all of those vegetables or if you had to choose only a few, we recommend not skipping the scallions and the gosari.

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Also, chili oil and sesame oil deepen the flavors in this soup. Some recipes will include recipes and instructions on how to make your own chili oil. However, if you choose not to make your own, you can find chili oil in many markets. The best chili and sesame oils for sale in South Korea are small press batches that tend to be found at traditional Korean markets.

Many families make this soup in large batches to have for several days. Also, you may find that the flavor deepens after a day or two. This dish does take some time to make as you are building flavors, but the end result is definitely worth it.

Buying Meat Cuts In Korea

The beef in yukgaejang is usually a cut of brisket. However, if brisket is difficult to find or overly expensive, you can also use flank steak. Brisket is a great cut of meat for this dish as the tougher meat will soften as it cooks down in the broth and will be a perfect fall apart texture.

When you do shopping for your meat cuts, remember that South Korea has its own type of meat cuts and different names for the meat cuts. You may not be able to recognize brisket visually in its packaging. Such differences mean that you may need an image to show the butcher so you can point to where on the animal the meat comes from. If you need help we recommend the following resources:

Yukgaejang v Dakgaejang

Please note, if you decide to use chicken instead of beef, the dish is referred to as dakgaejang 닭개장.

yukgaejang

Biggest Hurdle in Cooking Yukgaejang

The dried gosari and taro stems can be difficult to locate and cannot be replaced with other ingredients. These both gave a unique chewy texture to the dish. Also, if you get the dried versions, you will need to rehydrate them prior to cooking. The gosari provides a deep, earthy flavor that helps to make the dish even more fabulous.

Yukgaejang is not a quick dish to make in general, as you are building flavors. However, if you want to make it quickly, we included a quick version in the YouTube videos below from Chef Baek Jong-won (Chef Paik).

First Experience With Yukgaejang

I admit that I lived in Korea for many years before I ever tried Yukgaejang. However, this dish is one that Chuck has ordered many times over the years. The reason I decided to make this soup was that he loves this dish so much. During the first few years that we lived here, I was afraid to try it because it is “spicy” beef soup and I didn’t want to eat something too spicy.

However, when I finally tried it, I was surprised at what a delicious and flavorful soup this is. Also, I realized that over the years I have been in Korea, my spice level has increased quite a bit. That being said, if you are cooking your yukgaejang, just remember that you control the heat level. So, add your gochugaru to your own level of comfort.

Three Recommended Cooking Yukgaejang Videos to Watch

Check out these three videos for recipes on how to cook yukgaejang at home. You may decide to take several recipes and mash them up into your own version like we did. Or try one of the great recipes out there to make this tasty soup.

Korean American Cooking Yukgaejang

Seonkyoung Longest’s Yukgaejang

Korean Cooking Yukgaejang

Chef Paik’s Yukgaejang Recipe

American in Korea Cooking Yukgaejang

KimchiRednecks’ Yukgaejang

Let Us Know How It Turns Out

When you make yukgaejang for the first time at home, be sure to leave a comment and let us know how it turned out! Also, if you live in Pyeongtaek, you can even share your success (or failure) with us in the Pyeongtaek Food & Fun Facebook group.

If you are looking for other dishes (Korean or otherwise) or reviews of restaurants, be sure to check out the KimchiRednecks channel or check out our social media accounts on Facebook or Instagram, where we often share what we are cooking or eating.

Read more in our Year to Learn Korean Cooking Series

A year to learn Korean cooking