Main,  Soup

Korean-Inspired Brisket Stew (“Magic Stew”) for Instant Pot

I used to live near this Korean-inspired cafe that made a soup that possessed miracle cold-curing powers. They called it Farmer’s Market Stew; I called it “Magic Stew.”  Brisket, shiitake mushrooms, seasonal greens and 12-hour broth. I was convinced the broth took 12 hours due to some secret ceremony that was painstakingly performed over the pot. But then the cafe changed their menu and voila! – the magic stew disappeared.

After suffering through a few brutal stew-less colds (and receiving an Instant Pot for my birthday), I set off on a mission to create my own “Magic Stew.” I scoured the Internet for old descriptions of the mystical broth and researched a variety of Korean brisket recipes.  Eventually, I came up with my own version that doesn’t take 12 hours but still manages to taste like a warm, spicy hug traveling down a sore throat, past a stuffy chest and into a belly yearning for the fragrant comfort of a slow-braised beef and shiitake miracle elixir.

Korean-Inspired Brisket Stew (“Magic Stew”) for Instant Pot

Serves 4

Brisket and Rub

  • 1.5 lbs beef brisket (I’ve used short ribs and even stew beef as a substitute)
  • 3 tbs sambal oelek (Korean ground chili paste)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (omit or wait until end if you’re shy about spice)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine sambal oelek through salt in a small bowl. Rub over brisket. Let marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours in fridge.  Allow beef to come to room temperature before cooking.


  • 1 tbs neutral tasting oil like canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and shopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 12 oz. (1 bottle or can) lager beer, like Budweiser
  • 2 tbs sweet thai chili oil
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs sriracha (or more if you like more heat, can also be added at the end to increase the heat)
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 oz. sliced shiitake mushrooms (you can also use an exotic mushroom blend, but be sure it contains shiitake)
  • 2 cups rough chopped greens such as Lacinato kale or chard (spinach also works)
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups Korean rice cakes (see note below) or 2 cups cooked rice
  • 4 eggs (optional)
  • Sliced green onions (optional)

Set Instant Pot to Saute setting on medium heat. Add 1 tbs oil and gently tilt pot to coat bottom.  Add brisket and sear 4-5 minutes per side until brown. Remove meat to a plate and set aside.

Add chopped onion to pot.  Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent and just starting to brown. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.  Add lager and use wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add sweet chili oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and sriracha.  Stir to combine well. Return meat to pot (pouring any juices on plate back into pot as well). Add broth, water, and shiitake mushrooms. Hit cancel, place lid on pot and lock into place.  Seal vent. Select Pressure Cook option and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes (30 minutes if using stew beef cut into smaller pieces). Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then force pressure to Vent the remainder of the steam.

Optional. While meat is cooking, make 7-minute eggs.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Fill another bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes and set nearby the stove. Gently place eggs into water and boil for 7 minutes.  (The culinary industry usually says 6 minutes, but I can’t peel those suckers for the life of me unless they’ve cooked a tad longer.) After 7 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath for at least 2 minutes.  Once cool enough to handle, peel shells and set eggs aside. (These can be made in advance, stored in the fridge and reheated gently for a minute in hot water before serving. The stew also does a nice job of reheating the eggs, especially if they’ve just been in the ice bath and not the fridge).

Hit Cancel and set Instant Pot to Saute on low heat. Remove meat with tongs onto plate. Shred with fork.  Return shredded meat and juices to pot. Don’t worry if you scoop up some mushrooms along with the meat. (If you’ve used cubed stew beef, you might need to remove beef and mushroom with a large slotted spoon to be able to shred beef).

Stir in chopped dark greens and cider vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste broth and adjust seasonings.

Stir in the sliced rice cakes, cook for 1 min. If using, slice peeled 7-minute eggs in half.

Ladle into bowls.  If using, add two halves of egg to each bowl. Top with chopped green onions, if desired, and serve.

Alternatives: Korean rice cakes add a wonderful, chewy surprise to this stew.  These likely require a trip to your local Asian market. I found mine in the refrigerator section in a large bag labeled “Rice Cakes for Tteokguk.”  I believe they also come in cylinder shapes that you could buy and slice on the diagonal if you can’t find the pre-sliced ones. If you can’t find any version of rice cakes or don’t have access to an Asian market, feel free to just make a pot of rice to serve alongside this dish. For me, a 1/2 cup of cooked rice per bowl of soup would do the trick. Just follow package directions for whichever rice you use.  For serving, place cooked rice in bowl and ladle stew over top.