Gamjatang

A fantastic spicy Korean soup that goes perfect for cold rainy days or crazy hot days (it works, I swear).

Ingredients:
1 kg pork spine (or neck bones if you can’t find it) – 1kg
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp soybean paste
2 tbsp Korean hot pepper flakes
1 tbsp Korean hot pepper paste
3 tbsp cooking wine
3 tbsp perilla seeds powder (deulkkae garu)
3 tbsp fish sauce
10 perilla leaves
1 medium Onion
6 – 8 Garlic cloves (minced)
2 tbsp sliced Ginger
2 – 3 cups napa cabbage
3 whole potatoes
2 cups soy bean sprouts
2 – 3 cups asian chives (buchu)
2 green onion stalks

Directions:
Start with soaking the bones for about 2 hours. While they’re soaking, you can grab about 2 – 3 cups of Napa cabbage and blanch them in boiling hot water for a minute then dunking them into cold water. Afterwards, cut them lengthwise into bite size pieces and put them aside for later.

After two hours, take the bones out and rinse them under cold water and then put them into boiling water with half of the ginger slices (thumb size worth) for about 8 minutes. Take the bones out, and rinse them under cold water again but take time to pick out any excess fat.

Now pour 2.5 L of water into a large pot. Add the onion, ginger, soy bean paste, dried red chili pepper, and dried shiitake mushrooms. Boil for 1.5 hours over medium high heat.

For the sauce mix minced garlic, hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, cooking wine, fish sauce, and perilla seeds powder together in a bowl and set aside. We will use this near the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Now for the vegetables, cut the green onions and Asian chives into 3 inch pieces, wash the sprouts, cut the perilla leaves into bite size pieces, and peel the potatoes. Once the broth is done, fish out the mushrooms and dried chili pepper. Slice the mushrooms and add back into the pot along with the prepared vegetables. Pour the sauce into the broth and boil for another half an hour.

To serve it is recommended to fill an earthenware bowl with the soup and get it to boil before bringing it to the table. That way the soup will stay nice and hot throughout the whole meal, this is especially good on cold rainy nights. Garnish with chopped green onions and you’re done.

Thoughts:
My brother and I thought we would try making some Korean food for dinner. After some searching we decided on making some Gamjatang. Right at the beginning we hit a snag. A lot of the ingredients might be hard to find at your local supermarket. For the red chili pepper, soybean paste, hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, Perilla seeds powder, and Perilla leaves I had to go to a Korean supermarket to find them. Perilla leaves was the most difficult to find (I was able to find the ingredients at Kim’s Market and K Mart). After some research I discovered that they are also called “egoma” or “shiso” leaves so you might have some luck in Japanese markets.

Gamjatang is a traditional Korean spicy soup made with pork spine bones and vegetables. The dish originated from Incheon city around 1899 when the construction of the Gyung-ui Railway began, and later it became one of the iconic foods of the city. The pork spine, cheap vegetables, and ground wild sesame seeds allowed Gamjatang to be a tasty, nutritious, as well as a cost effective dish that provides a unique nutty flavour which complements the spicy broth.

The meat on the spine is usually hard to get to, but simmering it for an hour and a half it’s easy to remove them with chopsticks or a fork. Plus it is incredible enjoyable to suck the meat off the bones on a nice cold night. At first I was a bit skeptical with the soup since it had Chinese chives in it. I usually don’t like the flavour it has, especially in dim sum. The chives has this pungent onion-y raw garlic taste to it, so I was pretty reluctant in making this dish when my brother suggested it. But after simmer for so long, the flavour mellows out, and goes very well with the Korean spices.

I highly recommend you try this at home if you have any comments, tips, or suggestions please leave it below or in the video. I would love to hear from you!

Cheers

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