Introduction: How to Make Kalbi Tang
There is this really good deli in Minnesota where all the staple Korean foods were soooo delicious. The first time I tried Kalbi Tang was in early winter, and this was very comforting. I went ahead and made it myself the following weekend.
I would describe this version as follows: tender short rib soup with squash and noodles - Korean Style. The picture shows you the finish presentation. You will need to shop for:
1 1/2 lbs. beef short ribs, cut into big bite-size squares between the bones
2 cups water; have extra to add later
2 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon white ground pepper
1 teaspoon white miso (optional)
4 bunches bean thread vermicelli
2 zucchini squash or 1 chayote squash, peeled, and then sliced into 1/2-inch thick half moons
3 eggs, beaten with a fork
4 spring onions or scallions, white and green parts chopped 1/4-inch thick (discard roots)
Please note that the authentic Kalbi Tang uses daikon radish instead of squash and no broth but more water. Like I mentioned above, I made this version in the winter. Especially during winter, I try to find all ingredients in one store. I still love going to Asian grocery store, but I know I will not come out with just daikon radish when I get in.
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1. Cooking beef short rib meat and making beef broth.
Use approximately 1.5 lbs of beef short rib, cut between bones into a size that fits your soup spoon or is comfortable to grip with your fingers or your chopsticks while eating. Season with 2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground white pepper, and if you like this: 1 teaspoon white miso. Add about two cups of chicken broth and two cups of water. This makes much tastier broth than adding just water.
I use my soup pot which is an enameled cast iron pot. Let the liquid boil on high heat, and then the meat will simmer on small heat, covered, until tender, at least 1 hour and up to three hours. It's really worth the time. If you don't want to wait, you may use a slow-cooker. Watch out for the liquid level. Add some more chicken broth when needed.
Let cool for 30 minutes. Skim the fat with either 8 sheets of paper towel or a soup spoon.
2. Preparing the other ingredients.
Place beef and broth in a stock pot and use low-medium heat on the stove. At this time, I like to pick the the bones out and take out any bony pieces to ensure continuous noodle slurping activity without interruptions from taking out bones.
While the leaner broth rolls to a boil, clean, rinse, and then cut up 1/2 of white onion into julienne strips, 3 stalks of scallions into coarse mince, and 1/2 chayote squash into 1/8"-thick quarter circles. Stir fry the onion and squash with 2 tablespoons canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper until the white part of the squash appears translucent. Add all this into the broth. Divide scallion into 3 serving bowls.
Now boil water in that same skillet, enough to cover 4 bundles of bean thread vermicelli -- 5-6 cups of water. When the water boils, add vermicelli and cook for only one minute. Turn off the heat, drain vermicelli and put it into the broth.
3. Enjoying comfort in wintry days.
Divide the soup into 3 hearty individual portions ladled over the scallion in the serving bowls, or into 1 family portion in a soup tureen. Garnish with fried shallots and a favorite herb -- cilantro, for example.
Instead of supplying table salt, have lime wedges to season the soup.
This soup is so enjoyable when you know how to use chopsticks paired with an Asian noodle soup. When you slurp, your host knows how much you enjoy it and that's flattering!