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BOWSER - Fiery Gukbap-inspired Gochujang Oxtail Soup

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Complexity: ★★★☆☆

This was one of those recipes where the research and brainstorming phase was surprisingly short – everything came together beautifully! My first thought for the King of the Koopas was “turtle soup” – a delicacy in many parts of East Asia, made of actual turtle meat. However, cooking with turtle is way out of my comfort zone, and finding real turtle meat would be near impossible where I live – so making actual turtle soup was pretty unrealistic. Plus, I want to make recipes that my readers at home can make themselves – so turtle meat was definitely off the table! But, I wanted to keep the “turtle soup” play on words, so I knew I wanted to make a soup or stew of some kind!

Shigeru Miyamoto's original design for Bowser was loosely based on a ox. (image credit:

This is where things began to fall into place in the most satisfyingly serendipitous way. When reading the story of how Shigeru Miyamoto created the character of Bowser, I learned that his Japanese name – King Koopa – is actually a corruption of kuppa, the Japanese word for gukbap, a type of Korean rice soup! (source) Perfect! Gukbap is most commonly made with pork, but I wanted to use beef as a further reference to Bowser’s origins: before he settled on a fire-breathing turtle, Miyamoto had originally designed Bowser as a giant demonic ox! So, I decided to make my gukbap with oxtail, which just so happens to work great in soup. Side note: gukbap with beef is known as sogogi-gukbap, and oxtail soup is known in Korea as gomguk or gomtang! Gomguk, or "thick soup," was traditionally served in Korea's royal courts, making this dish even more perfect for the ferocious King Bowser.

Large chunks of bone-in meat are quite appropriate for the carnivorous Bowser - he's been depicted eating meat on the bone in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story! Finally, I made sure to bring the heat for this recipe. After all, it wouldn’t be Bowser without the molten lava and fiery breath! Sticking with the theme of Korean cuisine, I used kimchi and gochujang paste to pack some spice and scorchingly intense flavour.

The bright red broth reminds me of the scalding hot lava found throughout Bowser's many castles.


Beef marinade:

  • 1-2 kg oxtail

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 1 tbsp grated ginger

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • Salt and pepper


  • 1 tbsp peanut oil

  • 1 white onion, chopped

  • 1 daikon radish, thinly sliced

  • 3 tbsp gochujang paste

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp fish or oyster sauce

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

  • 4 cups beef stock

  • 4 cups water

  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced

  • 2 cups kimchi, roughly chopped

  • 1-2 cups rice

  • 1 cup bean sprouts, thoroughly washed

  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 1 tbsp gochugaru chili flakes

  • Sesame oil or chili oil (make your own chili oil by cooking vegetable oil with dried red pepper flakes and whole black peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for about half an hour)


  1. Combine oxtail, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Marinate for at least half an hour.

  2. Meanwhile, chop onion and daikon radish. Heat oil in a large pot and cook onion and radish until softened and translucent. Add gochugaru flakes and cook for about a minute until fragrant.

  3. Add oxtail and cook until just browned on the outside, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add gochujang, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, beef broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for at least 1 hour until the oxtail is tender and falling off the bone. Toss in kimchi and mushrooms during the final 10 minutes of cooking until softened.

  5. Cook rice according to directions on package. Put a scoop of rice in the bottom of each bowl, then ladle soup over top of the rice. Top with bean sprouts, chopped green onions, sesame seeds, and chili flakes. Drizzle with sesame or chili oil if desired.


  • Oxtail is a very common ingredient in many types of cuisine around the world: Jamaican, South American, African, Chinese, Korean, and many more! You might find it in an Asian supermarket or any specialty butcher shop. But if you are unable to find oxtail, you can use any cut of beef well-suited for stewing, such as chuck or bone-in short rib. Some grocery stores will specifically sell “stewing beef” which would work great. If in doubt, ask your butcher what works best for soups & stews!

  • If you aren’t a fan of super spicy food, cut back on the kimchi and gochujang paste – don’t worry, the broth will still be full of delicious beefy flavour! You could also cut out the kimchi entirely and simply use the equivalent amount of plain nappa cabbage.

When you’re finished devouring this dish, you’ll be left with a pile of bones. Hmm... now that sounds familiar...

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