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Spicy Korean Style Beef and Octopus Soup

19 Jun


Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. Here’s a a yummy winter soup to make up for lost time! The hot bean paste in this recipe is sold in all good Asian grocers, but if you can’t find it, just use cayenne pepper or regular chilli powder. If you don’t have mirin, use dry sherry. This soup is tangy, spicy, beefy and I just love loading it with crunchy bean sprouts just before the end. Bean thread noodles are nice in this soup but don’t add them to the pot as they can overcook and break into little pieces and disappear (especially if you reheat leftovers later). This soup is just as nice with chicken and it’s much quicker obviously. When I was a uni student I ate it with no meat, just veggies and an egg poached in the spicy broth.

Oh and one more thing – if you skip the stock and reduce the quantity of water in this recipe by two thirds you can make a thick stew instead of soup, to eat with hot rice and kim-chi.

You’ll need…

500-600 grams skirt steak, cut on a diagonal, against the grain, into one inch pieces

6-8 baby octopus, roughly chopped up into 3 or 4 pieces (this ingredient is optional)

2 litres water, chicken or beef stock (a couple of stock cubes will do – and I use them all the time although I know they’re awful)

2 tbsps tomato paste

1 tbsp hot bean paste

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 large onion, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

1 1/2 cm slice ginger

2 tbsps mirin, dry sherry or dry white wine

2 tsps sugar

1 tbsp soy sauce

lots of cracked black pepper

a few slices dried mushrooms

A large handful bean sprouts

5-6 spring onions, sliced into 2 inch pieces

sesame oil to finish

Some sliced snow peas, button mushrooms or cabbage.

Here’s what you do…

Fry the beef in a little oil until well browned (you can do this in batches – I find it quicker that way) in a large, heavy saucepan. When all the beef is well coloured, add the onion, garlic, ginger, dried mushrooms, carrot and all other ingredients. Don’t add the bean sprouts and spring onions yet. Simmer over low-medium heat for about an hour or a little more until the beef and octopus are tender.

A couple of minutes before serving (or you can do it at the table when you serve) add the bean sprouts and spring onions. You can have fresh chives or coriander too and a few drops of sesame oil. Be careful not to eat the piece of ginger!


Slow Cooked Beef Ribs

24 Jan

Don't be hasty or it won't be tasty!

This dish involves quite a few ingredients but the preparation is all dead simple. It’s best to marinate the meat for 24 hours if possible, before the long and slow cooking process begins. I have included my barbecue sauce recipe, minus a couple of secret ingredients. You’ve got to have some secrets, right?

To serve 2 people (half a rack or about 3 ribs each)…

You’ll need…

1 rack of beef back ribs (whole) – approximately 1-2 kgs

For the Marinade:

Juice one lemon

3 teaspoons Tabasco

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 sprigs thyme

1 tbsp Dijon mustard



For the Barbecue Sauce:

1 tbsp treacle

¾ cup tomato sauce

¼ cup white vinegar

1 beef stock cube

½ cup hot water

2 tsp Tabasco sauce

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp blended chilli powder* or replacement**

pepper and salt

* I use ‘Tone’s’ brand that I get shipped especially from the US because it is so delicious and mild and has no MSG

** You don’t want to use hot chilli powder – to make your own blend 1tbsp sweet paprika with 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp garlic powder – or close enough!

Start by preparing the marinade

Combine Marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over the beef.














Put the beef in the refrigerator to marinate for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.




Prepare the Barbecue Sauce

Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until well combined and reduced by about a quarter. Set aside. This will keep in a jar in the fridge for a long time.

Turn on the heat!

To cook these ribs I recommend using a kettle oven, with plenty of heat-beads all aglow and some pre-soaked smoking chips scattered over the coals. The beef will need to cook for about 3 hours using the indirect heat method (with the baskets pushed to the sides of the kettle). Remember – all vents open! If you are not used to using a kettle barbecue, or you don’t have one, use the oven – they’ll be almost as delicious! If you can, use a roasting rack to get the meat up off the base of the roasting pan. You could also add a little sprinkle of smoked paprika to the sauce if you like!

So here’s how it goes…


Place the meat bone (flat) side down on the grill plate and pour any residual marinade over the meat. Cover the meat with alfoil and tuck the edges around loosely. Shut the lid.


After about an hour of cooking, you can start to baste the meat with a generous amount of the barbecue sauce. By this stage, the heat should have reduced a fair bit and you can ditch the foil and start really browning the meat.

It should start to look like this…

Don't be hasty or it won't be tasty!









Find something to take your mind off the mouth-watering smell or your sanity might spring a leak!

Keep cooking…

Baste the meat twice more over the next two hours. Once it’s done the meat should fall off the bones!

Like all red meat, let it rest for ten minutes or so before you cut it (to keep the juices in).

To cut it…

You're now on the stairway to heaven!


Just cut between the bones, trying to ensure an even-ish sized chunk of meat is on each rib.

You can toss the ribs in extra barbecue sauce before serving, or let people add their own at the table.


A simple coleslaw in summer or some corn on the cob and creamy mash in winter. YUM.