Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang)

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Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang)

It has been nearly 2 months since I got a request for this Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang:감자탕) recipe from Sally. What took me so long to make this soup? Well, first of all, I am not a huge fan of bone soup such as Ox-tail soup, Seolleongtang, and this Gamjatang as well. They seem a bit plain for my taste buds (gamjatang is an exception for this matter). I like something crispy, crunchy, chewy, spicy, sweet, or even savory, that has a distinguishing characteristic as a food. But those bone soups don’t quite fit those realms, except that they smell fishy while they are boiling in a pot.

Second of all, I had a bad experience when I had this soup for the first time about 10 years ago. Korean restaurants, they really should specify the menus. Gamja is potato and tang is soup, I literally thought that it was a soup full of potatoes. I didn’t expect to see some chunky bones that look like they were just cut from a dinosaur. It was a truly intimidating scene for me, as I was young and teenagers are not used to such a surprise, unless they have had that soup in the past.

Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang)

Now I made my first Gamgatang just yesterday and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was slightly spicy, but it had a very deep taste from being simmered for 2 hours, so its spiciness became a mild spicy flavour. I really appreciated the fragrance of crown daisy leaves (ssukgat, 쑥갓) since it diluted the fishy smell of pork.

It is a medium level of difficulty to cook and it also asks for some patience and tolerance. You will see why soon. Make sure you close any accessible door to the rest of the house (pork has a unique smell – I say fishy) and open the kitchen window while you are simmering the pork bones.

Ingredients

(It is enough to serve 3-4 people)

Main

Spices to get rid of pork smell

  • 1/2 stalk of green onion (just use the white part for this recipe)
  • 1 medium onion (peeled)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (peeled)
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger (peeled)
  • 10 whole black pepper seeds (un-ground)

Seasoning base (mix these well in a bowl)

Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang) ingredients

Other condiments

  • Salt -1/8 tsp
  • Soybean paste (Doenjang) – 2 tbsp
  • Ground sesame seeds – 4 tsp
  • Ground black pepper -3 sprinkles

StepsⅠ(Preparation)

1. Soak the pork bones in cold water for 2 hours (to get rid of blood). Drain away the water.
2. Put the bones into a big pot and add 7 cups of fresh water, then boil it for 5 minutes.

Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang) Step 1 and 2

3. Drain the water (throw it away) and add 7 cups of fresh water – again. Add the all ingredients from the “Spices to get rid of pork smell” section. Simmer it on medium to low heat for 2 hours. When the water seems to get reduced you need to refill the water to maintain 5 cups of expected broth (I ended up adding an extra 8 cups of water – 1 cup in every 15 minutes.)

Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang) Step 3

4. While you are waiting;Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang) Step 4

① Rinse the crown daisy leaves, cut off the thick stems.

② Rinse the mung bean sprouts.

③ Rinse the perilla leaves and thin slice them.

④ Rinse the green chilies, take out the seeds, and thin slice them diagonally.

⑤ Clean the potatoes. Boil them in a pot until 90% of them are cooked. Drain the water and cool them down. Peel the skin off.

⑥ Rinse the cabbage leaves. Boil some water for 1 minute and add the salt. Parboil the cabbage. Drain the water. If the leaves are big, you can tear them up length ways.

Steps Ⅱ (After the two hours of simmering)

  1. Sieve the broth (result of step I) into a separate pot. Then put the bones back into this broth but throw away the boiled spices.
  2. Add the peeled potatoes, soybean paste, and the seasoning base (that you previously made) into the pot.
  3. Boil it until the potatoes cook completely.
  4. Add the rest of vegetables (crown daisy leaves, mung bean sprouts, perilla leaves, green chilies, and cabbage leaves) and the grond sesame seeds, ground black pepper into the pot.
  5. Serve once all the vegetables are cooked. (You can adjust the taste with some salt if it is necessary, but I didn’t add any.)

Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang) Final steps

Note: You need to start preparing about 4-5 hours before you are going to start eating. I know! It is a huge time-consuming process. I started to prepare from 4 pm and ate it about 9:10pm, plus I had to wait 2 more hours to digest before I went to bed. But it was worth it! :)

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Pork Bone and Potato Soup (Gamjatang)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Korean
Serves: 3 to 4
Ingredients
Main
  • Pork spine or neck bone – 1.4 kg
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • Crown daisy leaves (ssukgat) – 1 fistful
  • Mung bean sprouts (sukju) – 1 fistful
  • 12 perilla leaves (so called sesame leaf, ggannip)
  • 6 Chinese cabbage leaves (Baechunip)
  • 2 green chilies
  • 22 cups of water total
Spices to get rid of pork smell
  • ½ stalk of green onion (just use the white part for this recipe)
  • 1 medium onion (peeled)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (peeled)
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger (peeled)
  • 10 whole black pepper seeds (un-ground)
Seasoning base (mix these well in a bowl)
  • Chili powder (Gochutgaru) – 3 tbsp
  • Minced garlic – 1 ½ tbsp
  • Ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • Refined rice wine – 2 tbsp
  • Anchovy sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Water – 1tbsp
Other condiments
  • Salt -1/8 tsp
  • Soybean paste (Doenjang) – 2 tbsp
  • Ground sesame seeds – 4 tsp
  • Ground black pepper -3 sprinkles
Instructions
StepsⅠ(Preparation)
  1. Soak the pork bones in cold water for 2 hours (to get rid of blood). Drain away the water.
  2. Put the bones into a big pot and add 7 cups of fresh water, then boil it for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the water (throw it away) and add 7 cups of fresh water – again. Add the all ingredients from the “Spices to get rid of pork smell” section. Simmer it on medium to low heat for 2 hours. When the water seems to get reduced you need to refill the water to maintain 5 cups of expected broth (I ended up adding an extra 8 cups of water – 1 cup in every 15 minutes.)
  4. While you are waiting;
    -Rinse the crown daisy leaves, cut off the thick stems.
    -Rinse the mung bean sprouts.
    -Rinse the perilla leaves and thin slice them.
    -Rinse the green chilies, take out the seeds, and thin slice them diagonally.
    -Clean the potatoes. Boil them in a pot until 90% of them are cooked. Drain the water and cool them down. Peel the skin off.
    -Rinse the cabbage leaves. Boil some water for 1 minute and add the salt. Parboil the cabbage. Drain the water. If the leaves are big, you can tear them up length ways.
Steps Ⅱ (After the two hours of simmering)
  1. Sieve the broth (result of step I) into a separate pot. Then put the bones back into this broth but throw away the boiled spices.
  2. Add the peeled potatoes, soybean paste, and the seasoning base (that you previously made) into the pot.
  3. Boil it until the potatoes cook completely.
  4. Add the rest of vegetables (crown daisy leaves, mung bean sprouts, perilla leaves, green chilies, and cabbage leaves) and the grond sesame seeds, ground black pepper into the pot.
  5. Serve once all the vegetables are cooked. (You can adjust the taste with some salt if it is necessary, but I didn’t add any.)

 

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About Sue

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the author/cook/photographer behind My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

Comments

  1. Pork neck bone costs around $4/kg at Asian markets in Melbourne (Aus). Great soup. Couldn’t get perilla leaves, but found another recipe that used perilla seeds. Didn’t really taste like anything though. Thanks for this, one of mine and my 3yr olds favourites (I did reduce the chilli content for her).

    • Wow your 3 years old likes this soup?! Great! It’s a shame that you couldn’t find the perilla leaves. I think green vegetables like perilla leaves & crown daisy leaves (ssukgat) do enhance the flavour. Maybe next time. :)

      • hello! i also just found ur recipe for gamjatang and it’s DAM AWESOME!!! i bought the meat at kmart for $3NZD/kg! thank you thank you!! i really wanted to eat this today but it’s mon n my usual shop is close and it’s really cold…your recipe is a life savor even tho i kinda cheated a little bit on the broth part (had leftover tofu broth) ;p

        perilla leaves are found in japan mart in freezer section normally i think… i keep seeing them around in nz and london…

      • My husband is from HK, so my daughter is familiar with pork bone soups. But this has extra flavour, plus potatoes for me, the Caucasian .

  2. I’m a chef my self. I just tried ur recipe. It looks beautiful and the taste was even better. Thank you do much for sharing. And anyone that has negative issues, they can go and suck a lemon
    Xoxo

  3. Very good soup on a cold day

  4. Thanh Buu Tran says:

    Sorry, but I have to diagree with most of the people here, the recipe did not work for me and the chilli powder ended up being too overwhelming and kind of choking :S

  5. I love this soup. Mine turned out very well. Thank you for the recipe!

  6. THanks! I’ll try this out. I’m in the US and no, neckbones aren’t free, but they cost next to nothing. All the rest of the ingredients might cost us though…We’ll see. Thank you! Looks delish!

  7. caglar keskin says:

    Potatoes are one of the most common vegetables all over the world. They are cheap, easy to cook and have so many health benefits.
    You can bake them, boil them, microwave them… everyone can make something to eat with potatoes.I will start to grow tomatoes
    in my farm and now learning watever i can about them, thanks for information. I also found another good site
    about potatoes and so many other methods of agriculturing, i recommend you to take a look.

    http://agricultureguide.org/

    • Although this is called potato soup, they are really just some filler and the star of this show is obviously the slowly simmered pork neckbone meat/broth…

  8. It is authentic and awsome. Even we were short of 2 ingredients, still the soup was very gooooodddd!!!. My wife loved it so much that we were planning to get the other 2 ingredients and cooked it again this weekend.

  9. thanx alot 4 the translated korean food i really loved eating n cooking korean food i miss all d food there, thanx again

  10. i searched for korean potato soup recipe and was delighted to find your blog. i labored 5 hours to make it and it quenched my craving. :) thank you.

  11. I love you! I used to eat this soup at least every week when I was in Korea. I left there 9 years ago and been craving this soup ever since. Thank you.

  12. Thank you for the Gamjatang recipe !
    I wa
    This one looks so good :p
    I’ll try it on next friday, i hope to succeed and remind the one I’ve eaten on Korea.
    Bye

  13. I tried the soup and it was GREAT. A little spicy but “yummy” absolutely love it. Thank you :)

  14. Thanks so much for the recipe! I looked at a few Korean-language recipes for this online, but none were quite as detailed as yours. I just made it–although I got impatient and hungry and only boiled the pork bones for 90 min instead of two hours, it was delicious!

    I used “sesame leaves” and “wild sesame seeds” from my local Korean supermarket. Not sure what “crown daisy leaves” are though, so I left those out… it still tasted right, though.

  15. Mr Jean Leslie Sr says:

    I found this description of Perilla at Epicurious.com’s Food Dictionary. If you’ve never used it, you should check it out and save it to your recipe files and “Favorites”. I use it often as I run across many unfamiliar Ingredients. The URL’s listed are for the page these definitions came from.

    I love Korean food, have every since I went to Korea in Oct 1964! I have many very good Korean friends who consider me as a brother, and I am honored to considered as such. Wonderful food.

    Thanks so much for your attention to detail in posting your recipes, you do an outstanding job!

    I’ve saved a link to your web site directly into my Korean Recipe folder.

    http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/entry?id=4555 Food Dictionary

    perilla

    see SHISO
    © Copyright Barron’s Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER’S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.
    shiso

    [SHEE-soh]
    Aromatic green, jagged-edged leaf from the perilla (or beefsteak) plant, which is part of the mint and basil family. The versatile green shiso is used in salads, SUSHI and SASHIMI, cooked dishes like TEMPURA and as a garnish. Green shiso is available fresh from summer to fall in Asian markets. It’s also called perilla and Japanese basil. The less common and less aromatic red shiso is from a different plant species and is more likely to be found pickled than fresh.
    © Copyright Barron’s Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER’S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

    http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/entry?id=4555 Food Dictionary

  16. Hi Sue

    It is really great you’ve posted this pecipe, I really enjoy eating this soup and I feel now( encoraged to cook it) well, about what Melanie asked you about that seed, I’ll tell you, I really don’t like that, I usualy use to go at two different restaurants, one of them uses this seed (but I only go there at late night since is 24/7). However, some people may like it, good for you!

    Oh the reason of the post, sorry, the seed it’s called FOK (I now it sounds not good) and you may find it at any chinesse market.

  17. elaine wright says:

    thanks for posting this… I’ve been craving for this food for sooo long….. thanks a lot.. i’ll try it tomorrow! hope ill get all the ingredients

  18. wow! i found it now the gamjatang recipe.thanks a lot for posting this recipe you know how much i love this,i ask to many Filipinas about the gamjatang recipe,yes they know but actually not perfect taste so am i not satisfied.
    i am glad that i found it,today i will try to cook this.

  19. mahyang says:

    I’ve trying to look for this recipe and I’m glad that i found it in here. Thank you so much!!!

  20. where can i get all the ingredients

  21. I love this dish, I am addicted to it. Everytime I visit Korean Restaurant, I NEVER miss this. :) LOVE IT LOVE IT.

    Thanks for posting the recipe, I am gonna try and cook. I want to know how far the differences between home cook and restaurant ^_^

    Thanks a lot ^_*

  22. Evil Jonny,
    I would love that potatoes only tang too.
    You really get my jokes. :)

    Sally,
    They are suppose to give extra flavour to it. We Koreans say it is healthy food or stamina food constantly for nearly every food. :)

    Beloved,
    Yeah, it was very involving indeed. I hope you like it. It is really unfortunate that you can’t get perilla leaves or ssukgat. Ssukgat and perilla leaves are key ingredients as you know. I am sorry.

    Budding Cook,
    I know, I think the time nearly drove me crazy. :)

  23. wow that’s crazy how long it took. :) but looks delicious. :D

  24. Sue,

    This looks fantastic. So much more involved and authentic than the one I posted! Unfortunately, I can’t get any perilla leaves or ssuk gat here but I am going to try your version anyway. I have pork bones in the freezer and was thinking about making gamjatang this weekend so this is perfect timing. Thanks!!!

  25. oh, maybe I can help answer what the small round seeds is. I think it’s perilla seeds. Because the korean restaurant here also has that and I asked what they put in.

    They said perilla seed is very healthy. It is also called black sesame seeds.

  26. Oh I really agree about the strong smell of pork. I don’t like it! I think I would prefer mine to be “potatoes only” tang with no dinosaur bones. :-)

    I also agree with your comment on Korean dish-names. Often times the dishes which are called “vegetable”-something really contain meat — that is a real culture shock for Westerners and very confusing.

  27. Lillian, You’re welcome. I hope you like it.

    Melanie, I have no idea what they added. Though as my recipe says I added ground sesame. It might be what they added, but unground?

    Jennifer, Wow that is really cheap. I paid about $6 for this recipe. (1.4 kg)

    tigerfish, I never thought pork can taste sweet. The strong smell seems to always overpower. :)

  28. Yes, pork sometimes do smell fishy, don’t they ? But when simmered and stewed in soup, they impart such natural sweetness to the soup. I love it!

  29. I love bone soups, all that simmering makes the stock so rich & robust. My mom makes soup with neck bones & gourd (I’m not sure if Korean cuisine uses gourd).

    Pork neck bones are extremely cheap in America. 39-59 cents a pound!!! You can get a big bag full for under $2.

    Thanks =)

  30. Hi and thanks! I found this website only a couple of days ago, but have already found many recipes I have been looking for for a long time, including Gamjatang. I’m looking forward to making this at home. One question, though – the Korean restaurants in my neighbourhood put a small round seed in the Gamjatang. Would you have any idea what this could be? I’ve been trying to find out what it is, but I don’t speak Korean and the waiters don’t know the English name for it.

    Thanks again :)

  31. Oh Wow! I love Kamjatang! yum! Thank You!

  32. simcooks, I am not that patient normally, only for food. :)

    Sally, I am glad to see you reading this post, you have been waiting for so long. :) I substituted ground sesame seeds for ground perilla seeds, because I couldn’t find any perilla seeds. But it turned out very well.
    ssukgat is crown daisy leaves literally. You can get them at Korean grocery store hopefully.

  33. Sally Tan says:

    Ohhh mY god!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!!
    Pork neck bone is so cheap here! It’s almost free…
    I can’t wait to try this out. I have so many recipes in line to be tried out now…

    A Korean lady from a korean store said that a very important ingredient in gamja tang is perilla seeds. and leaves of course.

    Oh, by the way, what is ssuk gat? Where can I get them?

    Thanks again!!!!

  34. You are such a patient and dedicated cook! I salute you!

Trackbacks

  1. […] nearly over except for the promise of great food delicacies. Later I was treated to a dish called Gamjatang which although not as spicy as my favourite brisket and mushroom soup was just as delicious. […]

  2. […] Korean Beef has) but the point is that maybe the idea of being able to hang out with Onew over some Gamjatang has warped into something horrifying and […]

  3. […] probably won’t feel like putting on their latest endorsement’s makeup just for some Gamjatang down the block or even to get a quick bite of […]

  4. […] range of recipes available and all the photos are just mouth-watering but I ended up going with Sue’s My Korean Kitchen recipe because of all the helpful photos and tips. It seems like a pretty long recipe but not too […]

  5. […] was not disappointing was the gamjatang, a specialty of the Yongsan Station neighborhood. There are a couple of places in front of the […]

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