Recipe Source: Lee, Cecilia Hae-Jin. Eating Korean. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, 2005 p. 101
Years ago - all right, a year and a half ago - when I still worked outside the home, there was a Korean restaurant near my office that I was absolutely in love with. I'd tried Korean food before once or twice, but opportunities for exploring it were few and far between until Minsok came into my life. One of my favorite things to get for lunch at Minsok was Yookgaejang, a kind of spicy beef and scallion soup. Well, I work from home and home is a long way from Brookline, so I don't get to go to Minsok and indulge myself as often. When I got this book and noticed this recipe, I thought it might be very close to the real thing.
The result was not identical to Minsok's version, but it was darned tasty nevertheless. I didn't make a lot of changes other than using green garlic instead of regular garlic, which I feel gave it a more pronounced garlic aroma. I used chile powder that was labeled "extra hot" - my husband had complained that the last dish I'd made at home (the pasta with fresh basil and tomatoes) wasn't spicy enough, so I decided to be a little generous in my measurements. That made it a little spicier than the Minsok version, which is certainly no slouch in the scoville unit department. Minsok also makes theirs with noodles, also serving rice on the side. I've been assured that this is not only inauthentic but possibly heretical by people who are in a better position to know than I am, but I don't care. It still tastes great and adds body to the soup. I didn't omit the noodles for the sake of authenticity, though. I omitted them because I didn't have the right kind.
We both really liked this soup. I was probably a little harsher in my evaluation of it because I was comparing it to Minsok, but that's okay. My husband, who has never been to Minsok, loved it and had thirds. A note on cost per serving: brisket is usually one of the cheapest cuts of beef you can get, and I'm very certain that you can get brisket for far less than I paid for it. I got mine at the farmer's market, so fresh you could still smell the fields on it, grass fed, et cetera, and the cost was frankly exorbitant. Getting brisket for less money would get your cost per serving down considerably.
Yookgaejang (serves 5 - 6; approx. $2.44/serving)
1 pound beef brisket
1 gallon of water
1 green garlic bulb, minced
3 generous tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 bunches scallions, cut into 3" lengths
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Large saucepan or stock pot
- Skimmer (optional)
- Small bowl
- Medium mixing bowl
- Put the beef and water in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour. Skim as necessary.
- When the meat is sufficiently tender, let cool slightly and shred it into thin strips.
- Put the meat strips into the mixing bowl with the garlic, chili powder, soy sauce and salt. Mix thoroughly and set aside at least 10 minutes.
- Combine the eggs and sesame oil in the small bowl and beat well.
- Bring the broth to a boil again.
- Add the seasoned meat, scallions and pepper.
- Return to a boil, then drizzle the egg mixture into the boiling broth.
- Boil 1 - 2 minutes, then serve.