It is a Korean tradition to serve this deeply flavorful soup for the Lunar New Year. The meaty dumplings, tender oxtail and chewy rice make this festive meal a delicious way to celebrate with friends and family.
Technique tip: If you don't plan to cook the dumplings right away, you can freeze them on baking sheets, then bag them up to store in the freezer. Without thawing the frozen dumplings, boil or steam them to cook through, then pan fry if you like to make them crispy.
Swap options: For a quick version, use store-bought chicken broth and frozen dumplings. You can also lose the dumplings and double the amount of rice cakes to make rice cake soup (dduk guk). Instead of making an omelet, the egg can also be drizzled into the pot of soup at the end of cooking to form ribbons of eggs, like egg drop soup.
Oxtail soup (Gori Gomtang)
- 3½ to 4 pounds meaty oxtails, rinsed
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 7 ounces Korean white radish or daikon, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
Meaty dumplings (Mandu; makes about 45 dumplings)
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 6 ounces firm tofu, drained and finely crumbled
- 2½ cups finely shredded Korean or Napa cabbage leaves (ribs removed)
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- 2½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
- 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 48 thin round eggless wonton wrappers
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Kosher salt or sea salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a splash of water
- 8 cups oxtail soup (recipe above)
- 24 meaty dumplings (recipe above)
- 1/2 cup picked oxtail meat, shredded (optional)
- 8 ounces sliced rice cakes, soaked in cold water for 15 to 30 minutes and then drained
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions, cut on the bias
- 1/3 cup finely sliced roasted seaweed
- Sesame seeds, toasted
For the oxtail soup:
1. Put the oxtails in a large pot and cover with very cold water. Let soak for 1 hour, draining and replacing the water every 20 minutes (this helps to remove any excess blood).
2. Rinse and drain the oxtails, cover with 8 cups cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer until a lot of scum and foam rise to the water's surface, about 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the oxtails to a large bowl, rinse well and set aside. Discard the water from the pot and thoroughly wash the pot. Return the oxtails to the clean pot.
4. Add 18 cups water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 2 hours, regularly skimming off any scum or fat that rises to the surface. If at any point the oxtails poke out from the liquid, add enough boiling water to cover. Add the garlic and continue simmering, skimming and watching for bobbing oxtails until the liquid has reduced by about half (to 9 cups) and the meat is falling off the bones, about 30 minutes more. Discard the garlic and transfer the oxtails to a bowl; cover and keep warm. Skim off any remaining fat from the pot (some beads of fat are fine).
5. Add the radish to the pot and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, if you prefer to remove and shred the meat from the oxtails rather than serve as is with the bones, do so now.
For the meaty dumplings:
1. In a large bowl, combine the pork, beef, tofu cabbage, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, salt, ginger, sesame seeds, sugar and pepper. Mix together using your hands, really breaking up the tofu to yield a very uniform texture.
2. Line a couple of baking sheets with waxed paper and set aside. Fill a small bowl with water. Unwrap the wonton wrappers and cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
3. Lay a wrapper on a clean work surface and put a tablespoon of the meat filling in the center. Dip a forefinger into the water and run it along the edges of the wrapper to moisten the surface. Fold the wrapper in half. Starting at the top of the half-circle and working toward the ends, press firmly together to seal, pressing out any air bubbles.
4. Lay the dumpling on its side on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling, making sure the dumplings aren't touching on the baking sheets. Once the dumplings are assembled, if you don't plan to cook them right away, you can freeze them on the baking sheets, then bag them up to store in the freezer.
1. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Beat a pinch of salt into the eggs and add them to the skillet, swirling to evenly coat the bottom. Cook, without touching, until the egg is set but just barely browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the bottom is set, again trying not to get too much color on the egg, 15 to 20 seconds more. Slide onto a cutting board, cut into thirds, and cut crosswise into thin strips. Set the egg strips aside.
2. In a large pot, bring the soup to a boil over high heat. Add the dumplings, stirring gently so they don't stick to one another, and simmer for 4 minutes (a little longer if the dumplings are frozen). Add the oxtail meat (if using) and rice cakes and continue to simmer until the dumplings are cooked through and the rice cakes are soft, about 2 minutes more. They should both float to the top of the soup. Season with salt and pepper, but not too aggressively, as the dumplings have a lot of flavor.
3. Divide the soup, rice cakes, dumplings and oxtail meat (if using) among four to six bowls. Top with the egg strips, scallions, seaweed and sesame seeds and serve immediately.