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Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup)

Hearty and comforting yukgaejang recipe. This spicy beef soup is made slowly in a traditional way to bring out all the delicious flavor in depth. Learn how to make this at home!

Yukgaejang served in a black earthen bowl

What is Yukgaejang

Yukgaejang (yuk gae jang, 육개장) is Korean spicy beef soup. It is often served during hot summer days as a stamina food. But due to the hearty nature of the soup, it is commonly served during colder months as a comfort food.

The soup highlights shredded beef brisket, water, fernbrake (bracken fiddlehead), bean sprouts, green onions, sesame oil and Korean chili powder as an integral ingredients.

The soup is slightly spicy, savory, and comforting. You will also taste earthy flavor from the fernbrake and shiitake mushrooms.

Yukgaejang is served with a bowl of rice, kimchi and other Korean side dishes. But really, you won’t find the need to prepare other side dishes as yukgaejang itself is quite substantial. A good balance of meat and vegetables!

The spicy soup looks fiery and bold but it is not crazy spicy unless you make it that way. So don’t get intimidated by it!

Ingredient Substitutions and Tips

Meat

Typically you make yukgaejang with beef brisket, but flank steak and shank steak is also a possible cut you could use. 

Some people also use chicken instead of beef. In this case, the name of the soup will change to dakgaejang (닭개장); Dak means chicken.

Fernbrake

As I mentioned briefly above fernbrake (gosari, 고사리) adds earthy taste and also meaty texture.

You can buy fernbrake in a dried format or frozen format. If you buy a dried version, you will have to soak them overnight (about 8 hours) to rehydrate then boil them over medium high heat for about 40 mins. Then, drain and rinse the fernbrake and soak them in cold water for about 30 mins. (Soaking in cold water can be skipped if you are short of time.) Now, it is ready to use.

50g (1.8 ounces) of dried fernbrake results in about 300g (10.6 ounces) of hydrated fernbrake. You can portion the hydrated fernbrake in a ziplock bag and freeze for later use.

If you buy frozen fernbrakes (available from a Korean grocer), they are ready to use as it is hydrated and pre-boiled. Just note that this is more expensive than the dried fernbrake.

If you don’t have any access to fernbrake, you can add more shiitake mushrooms and green onions. Fernbrake is hard to substitute, but these two can help bring out more earthy taste. 

Bean Sprouts

Bean sprouts add a nice crunchy texture and add refreshing taste. But if you add excessively, it can dilute the overall soup taste as it releases water while cooking. So add these in moderation.

Korean Chili Oil

Do you love spicy soup? Or do you just want to add some fiery and bold red look to your soup to make it even more appetizing? If so, add some Korean chili oil.

You can buy a bottle from a Korean grocer or you can easily make it at home using this chili oil recipe

While Korean chili powder provides a bit of redness and also spiciness, if you add some chili oil, it enhances the redness of the soup and also increases the spice level without making the soup too powdery. (If you add chili powder too much, it can make the soup a bit grainy.)

Others

Other ingredients that can be added in your yukgaejang are beaten eggs and glass noodles (dangmyeon). I don’t like adding them personally, but you can add them if you like. You can add them about 5 mins before finishing boiling the soup.

Glass noodles should be soaked in water for 30 to 40 mins before you add them into the soup. Also, note that glass noodles don’t store well. It swells and breaks easily. It is best to consume the glass noodles on the day of making it if you add them. 

 

How to Store Yukgaejang

If you made more soup than you need for one meal, you can refrigerate the soup in an air tight container. It should be good for 3 to 4 days. If you want to store it for longer, you can divide the soup into smaller portions and freeze. To use, defrost the soup in the fridge overnight and reheat as you need it.

Yukgaejang served with kimchi and a bowl of rice

Other Korean Soup Recipes You Might Like To Try

Ingredients for Yukgaejang

Beef Broth

  • 10 cups water
  • 350g / 12 ounces beef brisket, or flank steak, shank steak
  • 1 onion (260g / 9 ounces), cut in half
  • 2 green onions, white part
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn, whole

Main

  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil (I used rice bran oil)
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 75g / 2.6 ounces green onion, cut it in about half to divide the white and green part. Then halve the pieces (white and green) lengthwise and then cut into 4 cm to 5 cm (1.5 inch to 2 inch) pieces
  • 3 Tbsp Korean chili powder (preferred) or Korean chili flakes, gochugaru
  • 95g / 3.3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, fresh, thinly sliced
  • 100g / 3.5 ounces hydrated gosari (fernbrake), cut into 4 cm to 5 cm, refer to my cooking tips above
  • 2 Tbsp Korean chili oil (optional)
  • 200g / 7 ounces bean sprouts

Seasonings

  • 2 Tbsp Korean soup soy sauce (gukganjang)
  • 1 Tbsp Korean fish sauce (or Korean soup soy sauce)
  • 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Garnish

  • 10g / 0.4 ounces green onion, thinly sliced
  • fine sea salt, to taste

*1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 cup = 250 ml

** If you want to learn more about Korean ingredients, check my essential Korean ingredients list.

How to Make Yukgaejang

1. Soak the brisket in a bowl of water and set aside for 20 minutes to draw the red liquid (myoglobin) out. Change the water a few times during this time. 

Soaking brisket in a bowl of water

2. Add the water (10 cups), brisket, onion, green onions and whole black peppercorns into a large pot. Boil them over high heat (for about 15 mins) and skim off any scum that forms. Once the water starts to rolling boil, cover the pot with the lid and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue boiling for another 45 mins. This should give you about 7.5 cups to 8 cups of broth. 

Collage image of making beef broth

3. Take the meat out onto a plate and cool it down. Strain the remaining ingredients over a large clean bowl. Discard all the strained vegetables while keeping the broth. Once the meat is cool enough to touch, cut off any stringy fat and shred or cut the brisket into small thin strips. 

Shredded beef brisket on a plate

4. Preheat a large clean pot over medium low heat and once heated, add the cooking oil, sesame oil, green onions and stir.

Stir frying green onions in a pot

5. Once the green onions are wilted, add the chili powder and stir for about 30 seconds or until the chili powder absorbs all the oils. Make sure you don’t burn the chili powder as it can easily happen.

Stir frying chili powder with green onions

6. Add the broth (from step 3), the meat, and shiitake mushrooms into the pot and boil them over medium high heat. Once it’s rolling boiling, add the fernbrake, chili oil, and seasonings and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot with the lid and boil them for about 30 minutes.

Boiling yukgaejang in a pot

7. Add bean sprouts and boil for a further 10 mins. 

Bean sprouts in yukgaejang soup

8. Garnish with green onions and season with salt if required. Serve with a bowl of rice, kimchi and other Korean side dishes.

Yukgaejang scooped on a wooden spoon

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Yukgaejang served in a black earthen bowl

Yukgaejang (Korean Spicy Beef Soup)

Hearty and comforting yukgaejang recipe. This spicy beef soup is made slowly in a traditional way to bring out all the delicious flavor in depth!
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Save
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: spicy beef soup, yukgaejang
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 343kcal
Author: Sue

Ingredients

BEEF BROTH

  • 10 cups water
  • 350 g beef brisket (12 ounces) or flank steak, shank steak
  • 1 onion (260g / 9 ounces), cut in half
  • 75 g green onions  (2.6 ounces), cut it in about half to divide the white and green part. Then halve the pieces (white and green) lengthwise and then cut into 4 cm to 5 cm (1.5 inch to 2 inch) pieces
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn , whole

MAIN

  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil (I used rice bran oil)
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 75 g green onion (2.6 ounces)
  • 3 Tbsp Korean chili powder, (preferred) or Korean chili flakes, gochugaru
  • 95 g shiitake mushrooms (3.3 ounces), fresh, thinly sliced
  • 100 g hydrated gosari (fernbrake), (3.5 ounces), cut into 4 cm to 5 cm, refer to my cooking tips above
  • 2 Tbsp Korean chili oil  (optional)
  • 200 g bean sprouts (7 ounces)

SEASONINGS

GARNISH

  • 10 g green onion (0.4 ounces), thinly sliced
  • fine sea salt , to taste

Instructions

  • Soak the brisket in a bowl of water and set aside for 20 minutes to draw the red liquid (myoglobin) out. Change the water a few times during this time. 
  • Add the water (10 cups), brisket, onion, green onions and whole black peppercorns into a large pot. Boil them over high heat (for about 15 mins) and skim off any scum that forms. Once the water starts to rolling boil, cover the pot with the lid and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue boiling for another 45 mins. This should give you about 7.5 cups to 8 cups of broth. 
  • Take the meat out onto a plate and cool it down. Strain the remaining ingredients over a large clean bowl. Discard all the strained vegetables while keeping the broth. Once the meat is cool enough to touch, cut off any stringy fat and shred or cut the brisket into small thin strips. 
  • Preheat a large clean pot over medium low heat and once heated, add the cooking oil, sesame oil, green onions and stir.
  • Once the green onions are wilted, add the chili powder and stir for about 30 seconds or until the chili powder absorbs all the oils. Make sure you don’t burn the chili powder as it can easily happen.
  • Add the broth (from step 3), the meat, and shiitake mushrooms into the pot and boil them over medium high heat. Once it’s rolling boiling, add the fernbrake, chili oil, and seasonings and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot with the lid and boil them for about 30 minutes.
  • Add bean sprouts and boil for a further 10 mins. 
  • Garnish with green onions and season with salt if required. Serve with a bowl of rice, kimchi and other Korean side dishes.

Notes

*1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 cup = 250 ml
** If you want to learn more about Korean ingredients, check my essential Korean ingredients list.

Nutrition Info (per serving)

Calories: 343kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 1357mg | Potassium: 847mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3100IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 5mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Tried this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Rate this recipe with a comment below and tag me on Instagram @MyKoreanKitchen.

Written by: Sue

Last Updated:

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Welcome to my Korean kitchen! I’m so happy that you're here. I am Sue, the creator behind My Korean Kitchen (since 2006). I love good food and simplifying recipes. Here you will find my best and family approved recipes. Thanks for stopping by!

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17 thoughts on “Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup)”

  1. Hi, Im form Indonesia and a week ago i tried to make kimchi and it taste sooo good. I never thought that korean cuisine match my taste. Then I see this website full of korean recipe and found this yukgaejang recipe. But there’s a problem. It’s very hard for me to find gosari around me, and I found that the price is quite expensive for the dried version in the marketplace. So, can I substitute gosari with any local bracken? Since it’s easier to find local bracken rather than gosari. Or should I keep substitute gosari with adding more shiitake?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure as I don’t know what your local bracken would be like. It’s up to you whether you substitute it or use more shiitake mushrooms.

      Reply
  2. Hello.

    I am going to try out this recipe but wanted to know if I substitute Fernbrake with the Shiitake how many grams should I add extra?

    and also, in the ingredients list you have a section for seasonings… when does this get added to the soup or is it served on the side to add?

    Reply
    • For adding extra shiitake mushrooms, that would depend on your preference. If you like the flavor of shiitake mushrooms in general, I would add the whole replacement weight – 100g. Otherwise, maybe add half 50g.

      You add the seasonings in step 6. Enjoy!

      Reply
    • Yes, certainly. I’ve been thinking about doing instant pot yugaejang recipe while I was working on this recipe. I just haven’t had the time yet. 🙂 Will keep you posted!

      Reply
  3. I made the spicy beef soup. I don’t care for mushrooms, so instead I added udon noodles at the end. It came out great. My wife said it’s a keeper.

    I also made the chili oil. I’ll still have some when I try the squid recipe you sent today.

    Thank you,
    Andy

    Reply
    • I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Chili oil is so handy to have, isn’t it? I’ve been using it a lot lately as well, even in my simple instant noodles. 🙂

      Reply
  4. I have noticed in dramas and online videos that food is often boiled at a rolling boil as part of the cooking process, while in many western recipes the instructions say bring it to a boil, then turn down and simmer.

    I was wondering if the rolling boil has a particular effect on the food?

    Reply
    • I think it’s more about the ingredients. Many root vegetables (e.g. potatoes and carrots) will be added into the pot to bring it to boil as it takes longer to cook. I’m sure it’s same as western cooking.

      Some ingredients are added once the water reaches boiling point to minimise their loss of texture e.g. green vegetables and some seafood.

      Also, some ingredients are added at the peak of boiling (and a few minutes prior to serving) e.g. egg and tofu as these ones don’t take long to cook. Also these can help prevent the water boiling over the pot e.g. jjigae recipe (as these will cool down the boiling water when they go in).

      Reply
  5. Wow! What a recipe! I’ve definitely never boiled a brisket before. I love all of the seasonings, and i have all except for fernbrake? I’ll have to see what that is. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Oh my goodness, this soup looks and sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing it.
    I hope to get back into watching Korean Dramas. We used to live in Hawaii and I used to watch them. I truly enjoyed them.

    Have a wonderful day and please stay safe.

    Reply

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