The Cure For What Ails You

Written by on April 13, 2012 in Lifestyle

Chances are that if you’ve spent any time in college, you’ve pulled an all-nighter. Not the kind of all-nighter where you’re studying, but the kind that you spend with your friends at various clubs or at a friend’s pad tossing back drinks until the sun comes up. The morning after doesn’t usually feel too good. In fact, it feels rotten. The ensuing hangover tears away at your being. Last summer, Featured Blogger Suzy Chung wrote about the 10 most popular Hangover and Energy Drinks. Believe it or not, hangover remedies are not new in Korea and date back more than a thousand years.


Photo courtesy of SJ Yang, Used with permission under Creative Commons License

I am of course referring to Haejangguk (해장국). It is a type of soup, which can vary by region. By default, it is consumed to “chase away hangovers.” It normally consists of vegetables, meat, and congealed ox blood. It may sound awful, but I assure you after a long night out and a rough morning, nothing feels better. Haejangguk dates back to the late Goryeo Dynasty when the recipe was first published. It consisted of thinly sliced beef, noodles, scallions, and cheoncho (천초) powder. Even after all this time, the recipe hasn’t changed that much.

Seoul’s Haejangguk is a type of soybean paste (doejang) soup made with kongnamul (bean sprouts), daikon, napa cabbage, scallions, coagulated ox blood, and doejang in a broth. The broth is prepared by simmering ox bones in a pot with water for hours. In Jeonju, kongnamaul gukbap is served as a haejangguk. Small kongnamul with the length of an index finger are poached in water diluted with a small amount of salt. Steamed rice, kimchi, scallions, garlic, beef broth, and a small amount of shank are put into a a small earthen pot over heat and the kongnamul broth is poured into it. When the ingredients are boiled, a raw egg is cracked over the soup. Once presented, other additions are made bringing the dish to the diner’s taste. There are also haejangguks made in a cool broth. Near Uljin,  ojingeo mulhoe guksu (오징어물회국수) is eaten as a haejangguk. Finely sliced squid like noodles is mixed with a source and cold water is poured over it along with ice cubes.

To make the Seoul variety, here is a classic recipe as envisioned by Hanna. To get things started, you’ll first need to realize that the following recipe serves six. So, if one is planning on making this, you’ll either need to invite some friends over or divide the recipe for later. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 pounds 돼지 목뼈 (Pork Spine or neck bones with meat on)
  • 된장 doenjang (soybean paste)
  • 고추장 gochujang (red pepper paste)
  • 고춧가루 (gochutgaru – red chili pepper powder)
  • 1 양파 medium onion
  • 2 마늘 maneul  (garlic)
  • 8 cups unsalted beef broth
  • 생강 saenggang  (1 ounce ginger)
  • 10 후추 whole or cracked (not ground) black pepper seeds
  • 1 무 Mu (Daikon or White radish) (about 1 pound)
  • 1 배추 baechu  (napa or Chinese cabbage )
  • 고사리dried gosari ( 4 ounces fern brakken, fern sprouts)
  • 2 빨강 고추 (red chili pepper – gochu)
  • 2 녹색 고추 (green chili pepper – gochu)
  • 느타리버섯 neutari beoseot (2 ounces oyster mushrooms)
  • 표고버섯 pyogo beoseot ( 3 or 4  shiitake mushrooms)
  • 1/2 pound 콩나물 (kongnamul – soy bean sprouts)
  • 7 파  pa  (green onions )
  • 팽이버섯 paengi beoseot ( 2 ounces enoki mushrooms)
  • Optional
  • 1/2 cup clotted ox(beef)blood
  • salt

To put it all together, follow these steps:

Place spine bones in a large cooking pot and cover with cold water. Let these soak for two hours, rinse, and drain.

Cover the bones with fresh water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for about five minutes, remove from heat, and discard boiled water. Rinse bones in cold water and drain.

Rub the bones with the doenjang paste and let sit for ten minutes. While the bones are sitting, perform the following: cut onions in quarters, peel and slice ginger into two or three pieces, cut garlic cloves in half from top to bottom, and slice the white section of the green onion in half from top to bottom.

Place spine bones in large pot and cover with beef broth. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Now add the prepared vegetables.  Let simmer for two hours, adding water as needed to maintain 3/4 the original liquid volume. Carefully remove the bones from broth, then strain the broth into a second cooking pot. Discard vegetable solids strained from the broth.

Soak dried gosari for about 30 minutes to one hour in cold water, then rinse and drain. Cut Korean White Radish in slices about 1/2 inch thick (for thicker radish, cut in half or quarters from top to bottom first). Rinse Napa (Chinese) cabbage well in cold water. Cut into strips about 3/4 of an inch wide by 2 inches long. Slice garlic in half or thirds from top to bottom. Slice the chili peppers on a diagonal. Cut Neutari beoseot (oyster mushrooms) into bite sized pieces. Add the Pyogo beoseot (shiitake mushrooms). If they are died, rinse them well and let them reconstitute in beef broth. Cut the mushrooms in half. Also cut the bean sprouts in half. You can now add the ox-blood if desired. Place blood, water, and salt in a mixing bowl and mix well.

Place spine bones back into cooking pot, add strained broth, (and optional blood mix) and bring to a medium boil. Add sliced radish and gosari, cook for three to five minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook another five minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Finally, separate paengi beoseot (enoki mushrooms) into small bunches (one bunch per serving bowl). Cut the green onions into 1.5 inch lengths. Place some of the spine bones in each serving bowl. With a slotted spoon, place cooked vegetables in each serving, over the bones. Top with green onions and paengi. Ladle simmering broth over the meat and vegetables in each bowl.

According to the recipe, this dish (without rice or sides), clocks in at an amazing 802 calories per serving. I’m sure that making this on the morning of a hangover isn’t what one really wants to do, but your loved ones may thank you for it if a local restaurant doesn’t have it on its menu. I personally enjoy the meal at any time of day.

About the Author

Steve Miller

Steve Miller, the QiRanger, is Korea’s best-known travel video blogger-journalist. His videos have been viewed by millions and seen on media outlets in throughout the word. In addition to sharing his entertaining and informative videos, he writes about life abroad and releases a popular podcast. Steve appears regularly on international radio stations, talking about travel, Korean culture and East Asian news. He’s also appeared on Arirang Television sharing unique aspects of Korean life. You can follow Steve on Twitter @QiRanger or visit his site