Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kal Bi Tang (Korean Beef Bone Soup)

I am not Korean but I love, love, love Korean food. I started making Korean beef soup about six years ago when my favorite Korean restaurant closed. It was a sad day…

There were a couple of other choices in town but none of them seemed to match up or even get close. It was a rude awakening when I discovered that everyone makes their beef soup differently.

That’s when I knew if I didn’t figure out how to make it, I wasn’t going to ever eat it again. There were no answers from the now closed restaurant so I had to go by memory and read, read, read, until I came up with what I thought was the recipe. Then I had to cook it several times until I got it right and that’s how I finally got my Korean Spicy Beef Recipe which is still my favorite Korean soup. But now I am branching out and have been working this Kal Bi Tang recipe and I think I got it.

Korean beef bone soup is a mild clear soup with a light clean flavor that takes 2 days to make properly, and worth every minute. The short ribs are cooked slow and low until they are so tender that they almost fall off the bone creating a light clean broth that gets enhanced with the simple clean flavors of fresh garlic, green onions and daikon.
Beautiful Meaty Short Ribs.
On day one the broth and meat get prepped and cleaned by soaking the meat in cold water for about an hour changing the water several times.
Soak ribs in cold tap water.
Then par boiling the short ribs a couple of times. Rinsing and repeating to remove the blood. The short ribs now get cooked for a couple of hours (or more), slow and low in more fresh water to create delicious clear broth. After the broth cools down to room temperature the whole pot goes into the fridge to sit overnight so the fat from the meat can float to the top and be easily removed from the soup.
Remove the fat from the soup.
On day two, you finish cooking the now fat free soup by adding garlic, green onions, black peppercorns and Korean daikon which all add a light layer of flavor that makes this soup so good. It all gets finished with clear noodles, green onions and egg ribbons.

I have made this soup many times and have always used the long Japanese daikon because that's what I was familiar with and what I had available to me. This time I found a Korean daikon that was big, round and fat. I thought that it wouldn't make a difference in taste but it does. The Korean daikon is sweeter while the Japanese daikon has a slightly more bitter taste. So if you can find Korean daikon that would be my first choice.
Korean Daikon
You can easily spice this soup up with the addition of Korean red pepper powder and paste (see my Spicy Beef Soup recipe) but it is also delicious simple the way that it was intended.

KAL BI TANG (Korean Short Rib Soup)
3 ½ - 4 pounds short ribs, cut into sections through the bones
1 gallon water
½ bunch green onions
5 cloves garlic, whole
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 pound Korean daikon (turnip), peeled and left whole
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. white pepper
Korean Style Starch Noodles (long rice noodles)
Green onions
Egg, lightly beaten

DAY 1:
Soak the short ribs in cold water for about an hour rinsing and changing the water 2 or 3 times to remove the blood.  If you have the time, rinse and change the water 2 or 3 times then place it in the fridge overnight soaking in fresh water.  

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place short ribs into the water and let it come back up to a boil. Cook for about 2 - 3 minutes. Drain the short ribs and rinse with cold water. Repeat this step 2 times to remove the fat and small particles that will float around your clear soup without this step.

Measure 1 gallon of water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add short ribs cover and lower heat to a simmer and cook for at least 2 hours.  The longer you simmer the soup the tastier it will be. Let the soup cool to room temperature and place it in the fridge. This will allow the fat to float to the top and make it easier to remove.

DAY 2:
Remove the soup from the fridge and skim off the fat. Bring soup back to a boil and add packet of black peppercorns, garlic and green onions that have been placed in a coffee filter (I used kitchen string to tie my season packet together) or tied up in a cheese cloth along with the Korean daikon whole.

Cover and lower heat; let simmer for 1 hour. Remove daikon and set aside to cool (slice into bite size pieces when cool). Remove season packet and discard. Check if meat is tender (it should be) if not let meat cook until tender but not falling off the bone.  Add the sesame oil, kosher salt and white pepper.  Stir to mix.

Your base for your soup is ready. It is now time to assemble a bowl of Kal Bi Tang. At this point you can spice it up with Korean chili pepper or leave it as a mild clear broth soup.

Green onions, eggs and Korean starch noodles.
Place a portion of the meat (you can slice the meat if you choose or leave the short ribs whole) and about a quart of broth into a pot and bring to a boil.

Add about 1 ounce of noodles (per quart of broth) to the pot and continue cooking at a boil for 5 minutes or until noodles are soft.

Remove pot from heat and slowly pour in the egg while slowly stirring the soup to create egg ribbons. Add green onions and daikon serve with rice and kimchi.

Kal Bi Tang.

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