2.302 Yukgaejang

-Cycle 2, Item 302-
3 (Thu) November 2011



by E-Mart

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-


Yukgaejang (육개장) is a spicy soup that consists of shredded beef and various vegetables, typically gosari (고사리) (bracken fern), bean sprouts, radish, leeks, onion, and garlic.

Although it remains popular, the dish is inexplicably difficult to find on restaurant menus in Korea; by contrast, I recall that it was a fairly common item at Korean restaurants in the States.

Continuing to make my life a lot easier, E-Mart has recently released a line of ready-made soups that come in plastic bags and require nothing more than reheating. This yukgaejang is the only one that I've tried, so far. Remarkably, it tasted exactly like the real thing, not the best that I've ever had, but good enough, as if a cook had actually made it to order, not a whiff of the artificiality often found in instant foods mass produced by a factory. Still, the expiration date was listed as 20 December 2011, so it's certainly not without preservatives. I'll keep a couple in the fridge for just-in-case moments.


  1. so you would keep something like this in reserve, and NOT the wang mandoo?

  2. what i don't like about freezing wang mandu, first, is that i'd have to get the steamer from way back in the cupboard. by contrast, regular mandu can be popped in a pot of boiling water, which is easy enough. also, the bread-like shell of wang mandu doesn't taste/feel quite right after it's been frozen and resteamed.

  3. no. No wonder you don't freeze it. What I do (with great success) is (1) take it out of the freezer (2) sprinkle a few drops of water over it (3) microwave for 30 seconds at highest power. Then it's perfect and ready to eat. What is this 'break out the steamer' shit?

  4. totally with DC on this. no steamer. microwave on high with water sprinkled on it. sometimes i make sure it stays moist by wrapping a wet paper towel around the whole thing before i put it in the microwave.

  5. i hear the sirens calling from deep within the rabbit hole, but i refuse to enter. i'll just yell down the following and run for it.

    the microwave trick works to an extent but doesn't restore the mandu perfectly and leaves a funny odor (like with rice). all i'm saying is that i don't like to freeze breaded items.

  6. Why would you want to enter a rabbit hole when you hear sirens coming from it? Wouldn't you WANT to run away from the rabbit hole? don't quite understand your metaphor. Anyway, sorry you and the microwave can't coexist in your crazy universe.

  7. it was a dumb metaphor. forget it.

    anyway, i use the microwave in exactly 3 situations: 1) to quickly defrost frozen meat, or at least get the defrosting going, as the meat starts to actually cook after about 10 minutes, even on the lowest setting; 2) to make a 10-second scrambled egg patty for a quick fix Egg McMuffin-like sandwich that i make every so often; 3) to heat up "haetban," which (in case you're unaware) is semi-cooked rice packaged in a plastic bowl that requires 2 minutes on high to produce near-perfect rice.

  8. Whoa. Hold up for a minute - okay so now you say you choose to microwave rice when you made such a big deal about microwaved rice having a weird flavor? And why can't the same logic apply to frozen wang mandoo? And duh, yes I do know what haetban is. I used to stock up as soon as it debuted in the US.

    we're turning into anti-microwave people in our household anyway so when we defrost meat we just put the plastic bag (or whatever) into a bowl of hot water. it defrosts in about ten minutes (or fewer) and doesn't accidentally cook the meat. And no radioactive microwave rays or cancerous agents.

  9. first, i don't use haetban on a regular basis--only the occasional emergency (like once every couple months) when we suddenly need an extra bowl of rice--say, mother in law comes over unannounced at dinnertime.

    that said, it does seem odd that i refuse to reheat cold rice in the microwave but have no problems with haetban. i guess there's something inherently different in the way the microwave affects each one. with cold rice, it's probably not the microwave per se but the fact that the rice is being cooked twice, which has to affect taste/texture.