When I lived in a boarding house in Seoul (yes, I once lived in a Korean boarding house) I ate muguk  nearly every day. (Room and board at this boarding house included home-cooked breakfasts and dinners.) Perhaps because of that experience, I consider muguk to be one of my Korean comfort foods. It is simple, but hearty.

Compared to other Korean dishes, muguk is also simple to make and requires few ingredients — principally beef, radish, scallions and soy sauce.

Muguk (Beef and Radish Soup) — 무국


  • ½ lb. beef
  • 2 large Korean radishes* or daikon radishes
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 scallion stalks, cut diagonally into 1-inch long pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. prepared sesame seed [NOTE: See recipe below]
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce**
  • pepper
  • salt

*Korean radishes are white, large and round, with a shape sort of like an enormous potato.
Daikon radishes are much longer and sometimes referred to as “white carrots” because of their appearance. You should be able to find these radishes at Asian grocery stores and of course at Korean grocery stores. The photos above show what a Korean radish looks like.

**To make this recipe gluten free, I used San-J Organic Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (available at Whole Foods or for $6.69 + shipping on Amazon.com.)


  • Cut beef into 3 large pieces and place in large pot.
  • Peel radishes and add whole to the meat.
  • Add 8 c. of water to the pot and cook on medium-high until meat and radishes are tender.
  • Remove the meat and radishes from the liquid and cut into 1-inch squares.
  • Place the cut meat and radishes in a separate pan and add chopped scallions, prepared sesame seed, soy sauce and pepper. Mix well.
  • Cook meat, radishes and seasoning mixture on medium-high for 2 minutes or until seasonings are absorbed.
  • Return meat, radishes and seasoning mixture to the liquid/large pot and reheat.
  • Season with salt.

[From The Art of Korean Cooking]

Prepared Sesame Seed

  • 1 Tbsp. white sesame seed
  • A smidgen (1/16 tsp.) salt


  • Put seeds in a heavy skillet and brown slowly, stirring constantly.
  • When the seeds are brown, remove from heat.
  • Add salt.
  • Mash seeds until pulverized.

[From The Art of Korean Cooking]

Super-Quick Version Of Muguk

If you’re really pressed for time, you could also make muguk this way:

  • Thinly slice Korean radish into 1-inch squares.
  • Add 1 c. of the radish slices to 5 c. clear beef broth.
  • Simmer 20-30 minutes until radish is tender.