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This Korean beef and daikon soup with mushrooms features a clean, flavourful broth

Hetty Lui McKinnon & Lisa Lin

THE WASHINGTON POST – The main ingredients in this flavourful soup are beef and daikon, making it similar to soegogi-muguk (Korean beef and daikon soup). However, unlike the latter, tang-guk has less broth and omits aromatics, such as onion and garlic.

Inspired by the version made by food writer James Park’s family in the southeast part of South Korea, this recipe features a clean, flavourful broth with cubes of pan-fried tofu and shiitakes.

It is traditionally served as part of jesa, a ceremony performed as part of the Lunar New Year. The name Tang-Guk loosely translates to “soup-soup”, referring to merging styles in the dish. Similar soups go by other names, depending on the region.

Korean soup soy sauce, such as the one made by Sempio, is not as salty or dark as regular soy sauce. It is critical to the final result and should not be substituted. If you can’t find it, consider a seasoning sauce, such as one made by Yondu brand, which works similarly. If more seasoning is desired, use salt to taste.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to five days.

Where to Buy: Korean soup soy sauce can be found at Asian markets or online; daikon can be found at well-stocked supermarkets or Asian markets.


Active time: 45 mins
Total time: One hour 10 mins
Servings: Four to six; about two quarts

One pound fresh shiitakes, stems removed
One-and-a-half pounds Korean daikon radish (mu), peeled
Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
One pound firm tofu, sliced into Half-inch-thick planks
Two tablespoons toasted sesame oil
One pound beef, preferably chuck, sliced into bite-size pieces
Six cups water, divided
One tablespoon fine salt, plus more to taste
Four teaspoons Korean soup soy sauce, such as Sempio brand
Cooked white rice, for serving (optional)

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to five days.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the mushrooms and cook for about three minutes. Drain into a colander and let sit until cool enough to handle. Chop the mushrooms into half-inch-inch pieces and set aside.

Slice the daikon into one-inch-thick discs. Depending on the length of the radish, you should get eight to 10 pieces. Cut each disk into batons about half-inch wide, then cut each baton across into one-quarter-inch thick chunks.

In a skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Meanwhile, pat the tofu slices dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

Fry the tofu until browned on each side, four to five minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into cubes roughly the same size as the mushrooms.

In the same pot used for blanching the mushrooms, over medium heat, heat the sesame oil until shimmering. Add the beef and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is no longer pink, two to three minutes.

Add the radish, half cup of water and the salt and simmer while continuously stirring to avoid sticking on the bottom, until the radish starts to look translucent, eight to 10 minutes. Add the remaining five half cups of water to the pot, along with the tofu and shiitakes. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the radish is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. There should be enough broth to just cover the vegetables, meat and tofu.

Turn off the heat, add the Korean soup soy sauce (see headnote), and season to taste with salt, if desired. Serve the soup as is, or with a bowl of rice on the side.