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  • Writer's pictureBaekin Kitchen

Spicy Beef Soup (매운소고기탕)

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

Maeun Sogogi Tang -

I have a million drafts of posts that never made it to "published" status. Mainly it's because I struggle with these recipe intros. Do I talk about the food specifically/exclusively? Or should I lead with something catchy and insightful, perhaps even a little self-indulgent? I always over think it, and I'm still not sure where this one falls.

I can cook Korean food. One thing that has helped me become a better cook is using recipes from different sources (Maangchi, Korean Bapsang, my MIL, my wife's Jaggunumma, just to name a few). Each of these awesome ahjummas approaches the same dish somewhat differently. For example, my MIL and my Jaggunumma (who are sisters-in-law) have very different styles of bulgogi, in that proportions, textures, and techniques are slightly different. I won't bore you with the details on that today, but trust me that there are so many different ways to make the same thing. Don't even get me started on the 1,000,000 different recipes for kimchi.

The point: Using different recipes and learning how ingredients interact and shape a dish has been crucial, and liberating.

I'm not Korean, so I don't feel boxed in by a pre-conceived concept of traditional or authentic cooking. What would I be adding to the world of Korean cooking if I didn't take advantage of that? I'm not saying this to be snotty, I'm no cooking mastermind and I acknowledge this completely, but I do get crazy ideas of how I can use Korean ingredients and techniques to make foods that are not traditionally "Korean" but do taste that way. This spicy beef soup is an example. It's not something you'll find in Korean cookbooks, but the flavor is distinctly Korean.

My wife was skeptical at first, like when I used chicken stock in my kimchi jjigae. She cringes when I do things like that. But, as this experiment has progressed, she's gracefully refrained from watching over my shoulder and saying, "That's not how you do it." If it makes good food, why can't I do it?

How this dish developed:

I like to garden, and we just had a small harvest of spring radish. I just made a large batch of radish kimchi, so I wanted to use them in a soup. We also had 6 lbs of raw bulgogi for two adults to eat (that's a lot). I marinated most of it, but for the last bit I told my wife to "trust me," and made her something delicious.

What came about was a cross between yukaejang, and kalbitang, two very different versions of beef soup.

My soup was made with a soy sauce base, onions, garlic, ginger and radish. The soy sauce and radish give it a deep umami flavor. A little sugar and rice wine brightens it up, and the red pepper flakes bring it home. The soondubu makes it light and refreshing. And, the sliced rib eye (bulgogi) turned this soup into a solid meal.

I love this dish. And for those of you with kids, it's equally as good without the red pepper flakes and served over rice!


10 cups of water

2/3 cup of soy sauce

3 tablespoon of sesame seed oil

4 green onions chopped

1 large onion, sliced

1 tablespoon of sugar

2 tablespoon of minced ginger

3 tablespoon of minced garlic

1/5 lbs of Korean radish, cut into large cubes

1 lb sliced rib eye (bulgogi style cut meat)

1/2 cup red pepper flakes (add more for extra spicy)

1 package of soondubu (silken tofu)

sesame seeds

1 egg per person (optional)


  1. Fill deep pot with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.

  2. Chop the green onion. Cut off the white part and slice it lengthwise. It will be included in the broth.

  3. Add radish, onion (sliced), minced ginger, and garlic and bring pot back to a boil before lowering heat to simmer.

  4. When you lower heat, add sugar, red pepper flakes, and sesame seed oil.

  5. Let soup simmer for 30-45 minutes. If you can slice the radish with spoon, it's ready.

  6. Taste soup and add more soy sauce (a little at a time) if it taste too watery.

  7. Raise heat slightly and add beef and soondubu. Break up the soondubu with a spoon after it's in the pot.

  8. Bring pot to a boil and let meat cook for another 5-10 minutes min

  9. If you use fatty meat, you may want to skim the fat off the top before serving.

  10. Add in egg and serve

  11. Serve with a side of rice and sprinkle some green onions and sesame seeds on top.

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