I spotted some really nice looking beef bones at the farmers’ markets this weekend so I bought them to make stock. When it comes to meat, always choose to buy free range, pastured animals who live on an all natural diet of grass. This is so much better for the welfare of the animal, and translates into their protein which is much higher in vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids. The meat’s toxin levels are also far lower than that of grain fed meat, and the two products are very different in taste.

To make a really good beef stock, there are a few rules you need to follow:

  1. Start with cold water, and don’t overcrowd your pot.
    1. Once you have brought the bones and water to a boil, throw away the water and wash the bones well before returning to the pot with fresh water. This will mean that your stock will be beautifully clear.
    2. Low and slow – the longer your stock bones can steep in the lightly simmering water the better. Rapidly boiling will only give you a cloudy, scummy stock where the nutrients from the bones have been overcooked and are dull in taste. I picture stock making similar to making good tea or coffee: water that is too hot will scald the delicate flavonoids.
    3. Skim off any scum as you go.
      *NB: if you are flavouring your stock with vegetables or herbs, don’t go overboard (a subtle stock has so much more beauty) and the vegetables should be cooked to perfect doneness before being removed. (This way the bright flavour of the veggies are maintained, and you can also eat them once they are done!)

This beef soup recipe was taught to my mum by her Korean friend, and starred frequently in our weekly dinners during the winter months. It has a very similar taste to Chinese soups, but I like it’s rich beefy flavour. I also like to include the marrow-filled bones which make this dish extra luxurious. If you make your stock in your free time and freeze portions, the dish is super quick and easy to make so it’s perfect for when you come home from work late and ravenous with hunger. Traditionally, sliced rice cakes are boiled into the soup to thicken the broth and add a chewy texture, but I choose to use wild rice instead because I like the flavour and try to avoid processed foods.

Aunty Yong Hee’s Korean Beef Soup with Seaweed, Ribbons of Egg, and Wild Rice
(serves 3)

You will need:
3 large beef soup bones (try to get some with lots of marrow)

250g beef mince
75g wild rice
a bunch of spinach
3 eggs
3 sheets of sushi sized nori (seaweed)
salt and white pepper

roasted sesame oil

Place the beef bones into a stock pot and fill with cold water. Bring to the boil, then tip out the water and wash the bones. Return the bones to the pot, refill with fresh cold water and place onto a medium heat to gently simmer. Simmer, turning down to a low heat for as long as you can (about 3-5hrs) skimming off any scum, and topping up with more water from time to time. Take out the bones and set aside. You can leave the stock to cool completely and freeze portions of it, or make the beef soup from here.

Wash the spinach and leave to drain. Crack the eggs into a bowl and mix lightly with a fork to break the yolks up a little. Tear the nori into small pieces and set aside. Bring the stock to a gentle boil and add the wild rice. Cook for 20mins until the rice is just cooked, then add your beef mince, stirring to break up any large pieces. Add the spinach, then pour a thin stream of egg into the stock so that ribbons form. Season to taste with salt. Place a marrow bone in the middle of large serving bowls. Ladle the hot soup onto the bones, scatter the nori on top, drizzle with sesame oil, dust with white pepper. Serve immediately with kimchi on the side. Happy times.

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