Korean-Style Ox Head Soup vs. Spicy Beef Offal Soup

Mmm.. hot, boiling soup in steamy, scorching weather?  It may not seem like a good idea but in Korea there is a tradition in which it’s understood that we gain energy to survive the summer heat by having hot soups made with nutritious ingredients.  Samgyetang, a whole chicken soup with ginseng, is an example of popular seasonal delicacy  or so-called boyangsik.  I am a sucker for all kinds of soup but I especially cannot resist beef broth – and every goodness that goes on top of it.

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Someori gukbap (소머리국밥) uses the head of an ox as a main ingredient for the broth.  Hours of boiling an ox head and other beef bones and spices produces clear and light broth that is a comforting taste from childhood.  The soup is normally filled with slices of ox head meat (which has nice chewy texture to it) and veggies such as wugeoji (dried cabbage leaves), Korean radish and chopped fresh leek on top.

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I am addicted to spicy eats so I usually go for naejang-tang (내장탕) or spicy beef offal soup.  The Korean word naejang means “organs” and just as the name suggests it is a soup loaded with all kinds of beef organs including tripe, intestine, liver, and seonji (clotted blood).  The scrap meats and offals give the broth its distinctive richness and that makes this soup one of my favorites.  They also say that beef intestines break down alcohol fast – could be the reason why it is such a popular sidekick of soju?

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