Oxtail Soup

My art teacher today was telling me about her weekend plans and how she put so much effort into making kkori gomtang (꼬리곰탕 ), or as we would call it: Oxtail Soup. Now what struck my interest in posting about this was the mere fact that to buy one, ONE, oxtail was 100,000 WON. That is roughly $100. ::choke:: In America, the price can range between $4 – $10 per pound, with most recipes calling for a few pounds. NEVER would you pay that much!
In Korea, beef is not as popular. On top of that, as my teacher put it, “The cow has only one tail”, and thus a unique piece to eat.


One story on the origin of Oxtail Soup is that during the French Revolution when the slaughterhouses sent the their hides to the tanneries without cleaning them, leaving on the tails. A French noble asked for a tail, which was willingly given to him, and he created the first oxtail soup. Soon, the tanners began charging for the tails because of the constant demand that had been created for them. The dish was supposedly introduced to England by French refugees from the ‘terror’.

This origin is news to me, what I had known came from American history and roots of oxtail in American slavery history. When the European slave trade began in the early 1400s, the diet of newly enslaved Africans changed on the long journeys from their homeland. As slaves, African-Americans would “make do” with the ingredients at hand. The fresh vegetables found in Africa were replaced by the throwaway foods from the plantation house. African American slaves also developed recipes which used discarded meat from the plantation, such as pig’s feet, beef tongue or tail, ham hocks, chitterlings (pig small intestines), pig ears, hog jowls, tripe and skin.

To learn more about Korean soups and the differences among them, wiki has a pretty good article describing them.

Korean Oxtail Soup

Another Korean Oxtail Soup

Jamaican Oxtail Soup



10 thoughts on “Oxtail Soup

  1. Before I comment on this particular post, I just wanted to say that it’s great that you are diving head first into the culture, so to speak, and are so open to it.

    On another (slightly more controversial) note, caucasians have a history of claiming dishes/discoveries/inventions that were around long before they “discovered” them.

    • Thanks! And I am always fascinated about how different cultures have learned World History, since clearly it’s through their lens that they percieve it. Have you ever read “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen?

      • No, I haven’t. I’ve heard someone mention it in passing, though. Is it along similar lines? It seems like something I’d potentially be interested in reading.

  2. 감사합니다 ! I enjoy your post very much! I live in a part of SanJose Californa where regular groceris are not common, and I nhave to start making inquiries if I want to ffind/purchase oxtsail, ham hock, beef tongue. Sigh, or I can be uncreative and travel to the nearest Safeway or Lucky to chat with the last of our union meat cutters in the valley. (he opening to my comment is from Google translate)

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