Home » Korean Beef Radish Soup (Soegogi Muguk)

Korean Beef Radish Soup (Soegogi Muguk)

Korean beef radish soup, aka soegogi muguk, doesn’t have the most appetizing ring to it. After all, it’s beef and radish. Boiled into a thin soup. How good could that be?

Extremely. The beef imparts its rich, savory flavor while the radish infuses a subtle sweetness into the broth. The result is a gentle yet deeply nourishing soup with an addictively comforting flavor.

One spoonful and you’ll understand why it’s a staple in most Korean homes.

What is Soegogi Muguk?

Soegogi muguk literally translates to:

  • Soe: cow
  • Gogi: meat
  • Mu: radish
  • Guk: soup

One thing that all Koreans know to be true is that no meal is complete without a soup. Not the creamy kind that the West associates with soup. The Korean soups that accompany pretty much every meal – even breakfast – contain chunks of meat and vegetables in a broth-y liquid.

Rice on the side is mandatory.

The rice bowl and the soup bowl end up sharing their contents until you don’t know which is which (or you just dump the rice into the soup, if you’re a Korean who doesn’t mess around). That’s why Korea has so many types of guk bap (literally “soup rice”).

We like our soups. And of all of the Korean soups out there, soegogi muguk has got to be the most classic bowl of comfort food. It hasn’t gained the fame of kimchi jjigae or samgyetang. But ask any Korean what three soups they could not live without and soegogi muguk is bound to come up.

That’s because this soup is intertwined with most Koreans’ childhoods.

It’s a simple, non-spicy soup so it’s one of the first that Korean toddlers will taste. Plus, it’s one of those dishes that you can easily cook en masse so it regularly features in Korean school lunches. I remember eating this soup at church and at large family gatherings all throughout my life.

And yet, considering how often it’s eaten in Korean households, you’ll rarely find it in a Korean restaurant. So if you’re on a mission to taste actual Korean home cooking – soegogi muguk is the best place to start.

Especially since it’s ridiculously easy to cook. It only requires a handful of ingredients and the recipe is impossible to mess up.

Soegogi Muguk Ingredients

Korean beef radish soup is a very simple soup. You’ll need just a couple ingredients…

Korean Radish (Mu)

Korean radish is to the red radish what King Kong is to Curious George. That’s to say Korean radish is big and thick. So much so that when someone has thick legs in Korea, they are called “mu dari” (radish legs).

That would make no sense as an insult in other cultures. Daikon legs would be skinny and long. Sakurajima daikon legs, though, I guess would be pretty insulting.

But anyways. In Korea, Korean radish is used to make soegogi muguk. That’s not surprising because this big, thick radish is a very common crop in Korea and used for a whole lot of delicious dishes. If you want to use real Korean radish, it’s thick and shorter than the daikon and has a green neck.

But outside of Korea, it can be tricky to find. So what can you use instead?

Daikon/Chinese turnip. These are much easier to get your hands on. You should be able to find them in most Asian – especially Japanese and Chinese – supermarkets. They’re a little lighter and have a slightly milder flavor than Korean turnip but to be honest, there’s not a noticeable difference. These are my go-to when I don’t want to schlep to a Korean market.

I’m using it for this recipe – peeled, quartered, and sliced.

White turnip. These also offer a similar – read: not the same but will do – texture and taste to Korean radishes. Plus, they’re much easier to find.

What you should not use is those little red radishes that are readily available in most supermarkets in the West. These may be small but they pack a sharp, peppery punch that is much stronger than the subtly sweet taste you’ll get from a Korean radish or daikon.

Beef

The other main component in Korean beef radish soup is, of course, beef. But what beef should you use?

Well, it depends. You can go for tougher, great-in-stew cuts like beef brisket, chuck, shin, and short ribs. You can also go with tender cuts like loin or fillet.

It all comes down to how long you want to cook the soup.

Many soegogi muguk recipes call for everything to be simmered for just 25 to 30 minutes. In my honest opinion, that’s not enough for seriously good soup. Especially if you’re using a tough cut of beef with plenty of collagen and fat – these are best when simmered long enough to get tender and contribute their rich gelatin and fat content into the soup.

So consider it a matter of time. If you have the time to make a proper bowl of soegogi muguk, I recommend you go with shin or short ribs. Those are my absolute favorite cuts for this soup. Simmered for about an hour and it’s perfection. I’ll be using shin for this recipe…

But if you want Korean beef radish soup on your table in 30 minutes or less, you can use tender cuts like tenderloin or fillet. But you need to be mindful of how long you simmer the beef for. I’d recommend removing the beef after browning and then simmering the radish until tender before adding the beef back in for another couple minutes.

Other Ingredients

  • Soup soy sauce (gukganjang). The main seasoning for soegogi muguk is Korean soup soy sauce. It’s an ingredient I recommend you buy if you plan on making more Korean food because there is no perfect substitution for it. If you don’t have it on hand, a combination of fish sauce and soy sauce will do – use around 2.5 tbsp of fish and 0.5 tbsp of soy sauce.
  • Sesame oil. We’re going to be browning the beef in sesame oil to infuse it with the flavor. Ditto for the radish.
  • Garlic. Crush it, mince it, chop it – it doesn’t matter. Just use it to get the flavor in the soup.
  • Green onions, aka scallions. These are optional but very recommended. You can cook them in the soup as well as garnish with freshly sliced ones when the soup is done.

Korean Beef Radish Soup Recipe

As promised, this is a very simple recipe that involves a couple steps on your part and then just leaving it to simmer. Let’s get started!

1. Sauté the Beef

Add sesame oil to a large pot. Sauté the beef in sesame oil over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, until slightly browned.

2. Add the Radish

Add the sliced radish and stir for a minute so the radish also gets some heat.

3. Season and stir

Pour in the soup soy sauce (guk ganjang) and the minced garlic. Stir for a minute or two so the meat and radish are coated.

4. Boil and Simmer

Add scallions and water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat low enough to bring it to a gentle simmer. Skim off as much of the scuzzy scum that foams to the top. Cover and let simmer.

5. Serve and enjoy!

The soup is ready to eat after about 20 minutes of simmering. The radish should be translucent and the soup flavorful.

BUT – if you can, I do recommend that you let it simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes. That gives the beef the chance to get fall-apart tender and the radish to get

Serve with rice and kimchi (of course). If you have any fried rice (especially kimchi fried rice) – this pairs perfectly with it.

What to Do with Leftovers?

Like most soups, Korean beef and radish soup is just as good eaten as leftovers. Just make sure it’s cooled down to room temperature and then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

As for freezing, you can technically freeze it but I don’t recommend it. The beef and soup will reheat fine but the texture of the radish gets a bit soggy and strange in a way that affects the whole dish.

korean beef radish soup

Korean Beef Radish Soup (Soegogi Muguk)

Soegogi muguk is a stupid simple recipe that gets deeply nourishing results. The soup gets its rich, savory flavor from the beef and a slight sweetness from the radish, making it one of the most simple yet comforting soups in the average Korean household.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4
Calories 444 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 cups daikon sliced
  • 500 grams beef shin, short ribs, chuck, brisket
  • 3 tbsp soup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1.5 liters water or enough to cover the ingredients

Instructions
 

  • Add sesame oil to a large pot. Sauté the beef in sesame oil over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, until slightly browned.
    korean beef radish soup
  • Add the sliced radish and stir for a minute so the radish also gets some heat.
    korean beef radish soup
  • Pour in the soup soy sauce (guk ganjang) and the minced garlic. Stir for a minute or two so the meat and radish are coated.
    korean beef radish soup
  • Add scallions and water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat low enough to bring it to a gentle simmer. Skim off as much of the scuzzy scum that foams to the top. Cover and let simmer.
    soegogi muguk
  • The soup is ready to eat after about 20 minutes of simmering. BUT – if you can, I do recommend that you let it simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes. That gives the beef the chance to get fall-apart tender and the radish to get
    soegogi muguk
  • Serve with rice and kimchi!
    soegogi muguk

Notes

What sort of radish to use? Korean radish is best but you can definitely substitute daikon or Chinese turnip with no real discernible difference.  
What is the best beef to use? My favorite cuts for soegogi muguk are shin and short ribs. Similar tough cuts with plenty of marbling and collagen like chuck and brisket are great also. Just remember that with these cuts, the soup will taste much better if you let it simmer for around an hour as opposed to 20 minutes. 
If you want a shorter amount of cooking time, you can go with tender cuts like loin or fillet. In this case, though, I’d recommend removing the beef after browning and then simmering the radish until tender before adding the beef back in for another couple minutes.
Is there a guk ganjang substitute? There is no perfect substitution for Korean soup soy sauce (guk ganjang). I find the closest way to get a pretty similar flavor is by using a combination of mostly fish sauce with a splash of soy sauce. This recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of soup soy sauce so I recommend substituting with 2.5 tbsp of fish and 0.5 tbsp of soy sauce.
What to do with leftovers? Once cooled to room temperature, leftovers are just as good when stored in an airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing because it affects the texture of the radish. 

Nutrition

Calories: 444kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 23gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 1188mgPotassium: 672mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 62IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating