2.007 Ugeoji Sagol Tang

-Cycle 2, Item 7-
12 (Wed) January 2011

Ugeoji Sagol Tang

* * * *

at Meedam (미담) Food Court
(Ajou University Hospital)

-Suwon, GyeongGi-


Among the many variations of tang (탕), a category of stock-based soups that I discussed extensively last cycle (see most recently 1.283 Galbi Tang), one popular version is made from sagol (사골), the leg bones of a cow. Whereas boiled ribs (i.e., galbi) produce a stock that's clear in appearance yet rich from the fat of the rib meat, a sagol stock is milky opaque yet crisp in taste. Koreans value sagol stock for its perceived nutritious value.

The menu refers to ugeoji (우거지) as "dried cabbage," but that's only partially correct. In the process of growing cabbage to be made into kimchi, the outer leaves are peeled off and set aside as being too tough/fibrous. These outer leaves are often boiled into a soup, at which point they're soft and rich with flavor. Back in the day, supposedly, poor farmers would sell the heads of cabbage and keep the otherwise unsellable outer leaves for themselves, drying them to preserve them for consumption during the winter months when food was scarce. While this may still hold true in some cases, I'm sure that ugeoji-processing has developed into its own industry.

Anyway, a soup containing ugeoji tends to give off a rustic, humble, down-to-earth vibe, even when the stock is made from expensive beef leg bones. And for some reason, ugeoji soups have come to be regarded as hangover remedies.


  1. i'm hung over and this is making me hungry. must go in search of ugeoji soup.

  2. so she rises from the dead! i hope u haven't just been drinking this whole time.

    as my only fan, u have a fiduciary duty to maintain your presence on these blogs on a daily basis. your absence was sorely missed.

  3. One of the things that truly fascinated me, and which I also really appreciates about Korean food is how dishes that were "invented" in times when money and food was scarce and thus everything edible had to be cooked and consumed, are still consumed today, even in fairly up-scale places...

    I recently learned something similar happened in 1940's Sweden, when, because of the raging World War II, food was pretty scarce, people ate stuff that would be repulsing to most Swedes today, such as badgers, pigeons etc, just to make sure they took advantage of every possible source of food... As of yet, I have never heard of a Swedish restaurant serving any of those animals (I doubt it would even be legal, since our food safety laws and regulations are really strict)

  4. i'd imagine that most cultures throughout the world have invented various dishes to solve hunger during the lean times (french cuisine, by contrast, seems to have flourished during times of plenty).

    one thing especially unique about korean food is the use of so many mountain plants and roots that other countries would probably consider weeds. being a peninsular country, historically the "hermit kingdom," we had to eat what we had. hence so many namul. i just suddenly realized that maybe the whole banchan culture (a lot of side dishes in small portions) might've developed because that day's meal had to consist of whatever little bits and pieces could be found that day.

  5. hang on, now that u mention it, what were u swedes (and other scandinavians) doing during WWII? never thought about it. weren't u pretty much isolated from the main fighting? badgers? what about all your moose?

  6. I find your theory on the origion of banchans very interesting.. Maybe I should try to find about good general book about Korean food and it's origins, would be interesting to see if what you write is true...

    Us Swedes were more or less isolated from the fighting, trying to stay neutral (although we sold iron ore to the Nazis, which they used to make weapons and tanks, so really, not really that isolated). Norway and Denmark where occupied by the Nazis (although them being "aryan" made living under German occupation much less harsh than for, e.g. Eastern Europeans). The Finns had to fight against the Soviets in two separate wars (The Winter War and the Continuation War) to keep their independence and avoid becoming a Soviet Republic...

    Moose is still consumed in large amounts by people who either hunt or know people who hunt (largely in the more sparsely populated northern portion of the country), or by people who can afford to buy it in the store... Considering a moose weighs severel hundred kilos, you can feed a large amount of people for a long time from killing one... The tv show where I learned about people eating badgers were showing what city people where eating in that period...

  7. maybe i should be the one to do some actual research on korean food rather than just speculating about it like i always do.

    again, speaking from a position of ignorance, it's interesting that countries so geographically close can have such different histories/outcomes, even during something as big as WWII.

    i would love to spend a few days working in a butcher shop or meat plant where i could learn how to carve out a whole cow, if only to see directly where certain cuts come from. i'd love to be able to take a whole animal and use all the different parts for different purposes, even the bones for stock, which i imagine is what hunters do to moose.

    i'd also like to register "badger" on my BY INGREDIENT list.

  8. I'd also like to know how to actually cut up an animal "from scratch".. Just for the sake of knowing...

    Speaking about eating badger, I would like to try eating it too... Maybe it's some compulsive thing, or that I want to "experience" as many things, but I want to try eating as many different animals as possible... In Korea, I tried dog soup (보신탕?), in Cambodia, I tried rat, frog and ant... Reading a post you made about eating pig's ass (or was it the ass of a cow?) made me want to try that as well when I go and visit Korea next time...

  9. to this day, i have never tasted dog soup (yes, "bosintang"), never even been in a situation to try it. the closest i came was a braised dog stew at a north korean restaurant in beijing. i had one bite but couldn't go any further. it wasn't because of any principle against eating dog (i'm not sure where i stand on that), but the meat tasted too much like actual dog, that odor they leave on your hand when you pet them.

    rat? i'll have to think about that one. i did the frog and ant thing in cambodia too.

    it wasn't actual ass. it was intestine, but it tasted literally like shit.

  10. Actually most Korean I talked with about the dish told me they hadn't tried it neither. One girl told me her dad sometimes eats it, but only on hot summer days (What's up with Koreans and having special days when the eat certain types of foods?)... I know many people who thinks it horrible to eat dog, but to me, that's just hypocrisy, at least if that person eats other types of meats... The rat was "city rat", but caught in the rice fields (or at least they told us so), so it shouldn't have been as dirty as you might think...

    Isn't a sausage made out of pig intestine really popular in Korea? As a food stall snack? Can't remember the name right now...

  11. the objection to eating dog on principle can seem a bit hypocritical in one way, but, looked at another way, shouldn't we be able to differentiate between animals? i don't know where i stand. still thinking about it.

    is it just a korean thing (about certain days for certain foods)? i would think it had some origin in chinese feng shui or something like that.

    what the HELL is a city rat caught in the rice fields??!! you mean, it escaped from the sewers of phnom penh to pursue a peaceful life in the country, but then the city authorities tracked it down? in any case, i'd have to think about it.

    of course, the sausage is called "sundae" (순대). it's been featured a lot on this blog (see under street food).

  12. Hmm you might have a point about that...

    Yeah it might have something to do with feng shui, worth looking into

    Haha I miswrote, it was NOT a ciy rat, rather a rice field rat :)

  13. the more i think about it, the more i'm not liking the idea of rat. it's not the rat part that's a problem, but i just can't imagine that eating such a small animal would be very good, just a lot of small bones and cartilage, like eating frog, which is probably the smallest land vertebrate that i've ever eaten.