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Cook Korean isle style

Two oxtail soups, one hearty, one with spice, convey local influences on classic dishes

By Joan Namkoong

LAST UPDATED: 11:07 p.m. HST, Dec 19, 2013

The popularity of Korean food in Hawaii never wanes. It's one of the many cuisines that make up our islands' mixed plate. But the Korean food of Hawaii — bold, spicy and often sweet — is distinct from the balanced, subtle flavors of Korean food in Korea.

That's the theme of my new cookbook, "A Korean Kitchen: Traditional Recipes with an Island Twist," with more than 70 recipes that reflect the cuisine as interpreted locally as well as some of the contemporary recipes of Korea. It's a reflection of the Korean table in Hawaii, where ingredients, flavors and cooking methods have evolved as early-1900s immigrants and post-World War II immigrants shaped the community.

Along with favorite dishes like kalbi, kim chee and mandoo, there are recipes for simple, home-style foods unlikely to be found in restaurants.

Here are two recipes for oxtail soup — the basic Korean version and yuk­kae­jang. Yuk­kae­jang is a spicy beef soup, the foundation of which is beef broth and cooked beef.


“A Korean Kitchen: Traditional Recipes with an Island Twist” is the first in the Hawaii Cooks series, a new Star-Advertiser-Mutual Publishing partnership that spotlights the many cuisines and cultures that make up Hawaii’s table, focusing on the evolution of these ethnic foods in Hawaii.

Oxtail soup is one of these. As I worked on the book, I became reacquainted with this soup of my childhood, doused with garlic and flavored with a bounty of green onions. It has become a soup I crave now, especially when morphed into yuk­kae­jang, a spicy beef soup that is a delicious one-bowl meal.

Oxtail soup is all about the broth, deep and rich, an unexpected savoriness from a rather insignificant part of the beef animal. The meat clings to the bone, maintaining a robust flavor as it becomes tender during its flavor-rendering simmer.

A 4- to 5-pound package of oxtails will deliver a hearty broth for four to six people. It's a good idea to make the soup a day ahead so that you can refrigerate it overnight and remove the congealed fat that will rise to the top. Browning the oxtails before boiling them will yield a deep-colored, robust and full-flavored broth.

Upcoming titles in the series: “A Portuguese Kitchen,” by Wanda Adams (spring 2014), “An Okinawan Kitchen,” by Grant Sato (fall 2014), “A Japanese Kitchen” and “A Chinese Kitchen” (both in 2015).


>> Advance order: Fill out the mail-order form on Page D8 of today's newspaper or order online at mutualpublishing.com. Cost is $12. Books will be ready for pickup at Mutual Publishing on Oct. 16, or delivered for $3 per book. Call 732-1709.

>> Brick-and-mortar shopping: The book will reach stores in November; retail price is $18.95.

Oxtail broth and the meat taken from the bones, leeks and dai­kon (white radish) are cooked together and seasoned with garlic, soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil. Kochu karu, the dried ground Korean chili pepper that's visually more fiery than its actual bite, makes the soup spicy.

Both recipes are from "A Korean Kitchen."


4 to 5 pounds oxtails
1 tablespoon oil
12 cups water
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
Salt or soy sauce, to taste
8 stalks green onions, in 1-inch pieces

On medium-high, heat a wide, deep saucepan. Add oil; when hot, add oxtail pieces in one layer. Brown well on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Do not let oil or oxtail burn; lower heat if this starts to happen.

Remove pieces to plate. Pour off oil in pot. Add water and return oxtail to pot. Bring to boil and skim any particles that rise to the top.

Reduce heat to simmer and continue to skim. Add garlic. Simmer 4 to 5 hours, uncovered, or until oxtail meat is fork tender.

Remove from heat and cool. Transfer oxtails to plate and cool.

Reserve larger pieces for serving and strip meat from smaller pieces. (Or strip all meat for serving.) Cover meat and oxtails and refrigerate.

Pour broth through fine strainer into another pot or large bowl. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, spoon off fat that has congealed and discard.

Heat broth with oxtail pieces and meat. Season with salt or soy sauce to taste and bring to boil. Add green onions. Ladle broth and oxtail into serving bowls. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information (not including salt or soy sauce to taste): 600 calories, 35 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 225 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, no fiber, 1 g sugar, 71 g protein


1/2 pound white radish (daikon), about 2 cups
3 leeks or 10 stalks green onions
6 cups oxtail beef stock
2 cups cooked oxtail, removed from bone and shredded
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons kochu karu (Korean chili pepper powder, found in Korean supermarkets)
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Peel radish and cut into bite-size pieces.

Clean leeks, splitting in half lengthwise and rinsing well. Cut the halves again lengthwise, then cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces crosswise. If using green onions, clean and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces.

In large pot, heat stock. Add beef, radish, leeks, onion and garlic; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

Add soy sauce, chili pepper powder and sesame oil and simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into bowls and serve with rice. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 450 calories, 22 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 130 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,500 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 46 g protein


Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., a nutritionist in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Science, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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