When Korean mothers have to leave their families for a few days, they often make a big cauldron of beef bone broth so their husbands and children can survive without Mom’s cooking during her absence. It’s become kind of a joke in families, even depicted on Korean TV comedies—a mother is cooking up a big pot of bone broth, so her children and husband are worried. “Where are you going?”
My mom used massive leg bones and cooked them in a huge pot. She boiled them for a long time throughout the day and into the night, until the broth was milky. Because she believed it had a lot of calcium in it, she made us drink it every day, thinking it would make us grow taller. Well, I’m still short, even though I had a lot of bone broth!
We consider bone broth to be very nutritious and rejuvenating. We believe that it makes you strong, so we bring it to friends and relatives who are sick or have just gotten out of the hospital. Sometimes we just make a gift of some good leg bones, which are prized and expensive.
To achieve a milky-white broth, it’s important to soak the bones in cold water first, then blanch them in boiling water for 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised at all the impurities and blood that emerge.
I give the timing for this recipe, but we Koreans never watch the clock when making bone broth. Instead, we let our eyes be the judge and boil until the bones are spent: soft and spongy, with all the marrow boiled out. They should be smooth, with nothing on them at all.
The resulting broth is rich, with a nutty aftertaste. I give you three ways for serving it.
Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking
1. Rinse the bones in two or three changes of cold water. Place in a large bowl of cold water and soak for 1 hour to remove the blood. Drain and rinse well.
2. Bring a large, heavy pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bones and cover. Boil for 10 minutes.
3. Drain the bones, rinse with cold running water, and drain well. Wash the pot thoroughly.
4. Put the bones in the clean pot. Add 6 quarts fresh water and cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 6 hours.
5. Add 2 quarts water, cover, and simmer for 4 hours. Repeat two more times; the total cooking time is 18 hours. The broth will be milky and the bones will be very smooth, with no meat attached.
6. Remove from the heat. Remove all the bones from the broth and discard. Let the broth cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 7 hours or preferably overnight. If the weather is cold, you can place the pot outside.
7. Remove and discard the thick layer of solid fat on the surface. Reheat the broth until liquefied and serve hot. The broth can be refrigerated for 4 to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
Three Ways to Serve Bone Broth
Rice Cake Soup with Bone Broth
Serves 2 generously
1. Bring the broth to a boil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Drain the beef and add to the boiling broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1½ to 2 hours, until the beef is very tender. Remove from the heat.
2. Remove the beef from the broth and transfer to a cutting board. Let cool until you can handle it easily. Pull the beef into thin shreds by hand and set aside.
3. Separate the rice cake slices and soak in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes, until softened and pliable.
4. Reheat the broth over medium-high heat. If the broth is more or less than 4 cups, add more or pour some out to make 4 cups. Stir in the salt.
5. Drain the rice cakes and add to the boiling broth. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until they float. Add the daepa or scallions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Ladle the soup into two bowls. Garnish with beef and yellow egg paper strips, if using. Set the pepper on the table for seasoning the broth. Serve with kimchi if you wish.
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Recipe excerpted from Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine © 2019 by Maangchi. Photography © 2019 by Maangchi. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.