Chuseok, Korean thanksgiving is next week! It’s also the biggest Korean foodie holiday in a year. Koreans celebrate Christmas, New Years and some other western holidays but this is the time when families get together near and far around the table to share a meal. I hear Seoul becomes like a ghost town around Chuseok because everyone goes back to their hometown to be with their family. Traditionally, Koreans celebrate Chuseok by making Songpyeon, a rice cake filled with honey, sesame seeds or sweet beans. I’ll be hosting a family dinner next week and excited to make some songpyeon and few other favorite Korean holiday dishes.
First one I’m sharing is Korean spicy beef & vegetable soup called Yukgaejang. I wouldn’t really consider this a traditional holiday food but personally it has been for me and for my family. It’s one of my mom’s repertoire whenever she’s hosting big family gatherings. She married an oldest son in the family and if you are familiar with Korean culture, oldest usually lives with the parent especially to support and care for them in their later years. So it’s quite normal that big annual gatherings like holidays or days to remember their ancestors (Jaesa) is held at their house. So my mom hosted these dinner year after year and I loved how she had a set menu that she repeated with little bit of variations. She no longer have to host these meals but towards the end, her food was nothing but perfection. I hope to one day have my own repertoire of menu that I can serve many years to my family and friends.
KOREAN SPICY BEEF & VEGETABLE SOUP (육개장) – 6–8 servings
1 lb beef flank steak
2 cups boiled fernbrakes
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 large Korean green onion (대파) or
2 Mexican green onion
2 eggs – optional
2 tbsp gochugaru (1 tbsp flakes, 1 tbsp powder)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp sesame oil
PREPARATION / COOKING
Soak beef is cold water for at least 30 min to take the blood out as much as possible. In a large pot, add 10 cups of water with half onion, 2-3 green onion roots and small chunk of Korean radish if you have it. Boil it for 45 min – 1hr on med-high heat. Lift any impurities and foams that comes up to the surface. Pour over strainer to make clear beef broth.
Julienne green onion and onion in thin slices about 2-inches long. Cut fern brakes and bean sprouts about the same size. Cut and shred beef into similar size as the vegetables. Beef can be shredded by hand. Base season the shredded beef with salt and pepper first then season the rest in a large mix bowl with gochugaru, soy sauce, sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger and sesame oil.
Add the seasoned beef and vegetables back into the pot with beef broth, add 5 cups of water and bring it to boil for 15 min in med-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for another 15 min. Adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more salt, soy sauce (for soup) or all purpose seasoning powder (which I’ll be covering in separate post soon!) OPTIONAL: Roughly whisk two eggs in a bowl and add and stir into the soup then boil for 5 min before serving.