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Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup)

Gamjatang is a spicy Korean pork bone soup. It is made by simmering pork bones for a long time then the strained milky bone broth is seasoned with Korean special condiments such as gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) and gochujang (Korean chili paste).

The soup is very hearty and comforting so it’s perfect for cold wintry weather. Let’s make it!

Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Gamjatang (감자탕) is a popular Korean soup. It goes well with a bowl of steamed rice to complete a meal (my preference) but some people pair it with Korean liquor – soju as a drinking snack.

One interesting fact about gamjatang is its name. Because gamjatang literally translates to “potato soup” (gamja = potato, tang = soup), but the highlight of the soup is actually pork bones.

Even when I ordered gamjatang at a restaurant many years ago, I was expecting to receive a soup full of potatoes, not some chunky bones that looked like they were just cut from a dinosaur! (I remind you, I was young and naive. Lol)

(While there are other theories about its origin of name, they are not convincing to me, so I won’t mention them here. ;))

Anyway, homemade gamjatang is very budget friendly (Have you ever bought pork bones? They are so cheap!) and considered highly nutritious (It’s all about the milky broth! Supposedly good for people with weak bones.). Maybe that’s why it’s been popular in Korea for so many years!

I originally shared my gamjatang recipe back in 2007 and it was due for an update – particularly the photos!

I even visited my local restaurants a few times recently to analyse their version of gamjatang in case I missed something in my first recipe.

In summary, my revised recipe is a tad spicier, but it’s more flavorful and earthy! My family loved it even more! So I hope you do too. 🙂 Enjoy!

Pork Neck Bone Soup (Gamjatang) | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Ingredients for Gamjatang (3 to 4 servings)

Main

  • 1.4 kg / 3 pounds pork neck bone (try to pick the bones with lots of meat on them)
  • 7 cups water
  • 3 potatoes (500 g / 1.1 pounds), peeled & cut into smaller chunks
  • 6 napa cabbage leaves (300 g / 10 ounces), rinsed
  • 100 g /3.5 ounces mung bean sprouts, rinsed
  • (optional) 30 g / 1 ounces crown daisy leaves, rinsed
  • (optional) 6 perilla leaves, thinly sliced
  • (optional) 2 green chilies, thinly sliced

Aromatic Vegetables

  • 1 onion (160 g / 5.6 ounces), peeled & halved
  • 30g / 1 ounce green onion (white part only)
  • 5 cloves garlic (30 g/ 1 ounce), peeled
  • 1 ginger (5 g / 0.2 ounce), peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper

Seasoning base (mix these well in a bowl)

Other condiments

*1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml

** If you want to learn more about Korean cooking ingredients, check my 30 essential Korean cooking ingredients list!

How to Make Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup)

1. Soak the pork bones in cold water for at least 1 hour (to get rid of any excess red liquid that looks like blood). Drain away the water. (If you can, try to change the water every 15 mins.)

soak pork bones in water
2. Place the bones into a large pot and add enough water to cover the bones, then boil it for about 10 minutes over medium high heat, covered. Drain away the water and rinse the bones in cold running water.

Parboiling pork bones

3. In a large clean pot, place the bones and add the water (7 cups) and all ingredients from the “aromatic vegetables” section. Simmer it on medium to low heat for 1 hr 30 mins, covered.

Making pork bone broth

4. While the bone broth is simmering;

(1) Put the potatoes in a separate pot and add enough water to cover them. Boil it over medium high heat until the potatoes are nearly cooked (about 90%). Drain away the water and set aside the potatoes until needed.

Boiled potatoes

(2) In a separate pot, add some water and the salt (1/8 tsp) and boil it. Once the water is rapidly boiling, parboil the napa cabbage for 1 to 2 mins. Drain away the water and cool down the leaves. Tear down each leaf length ways with your hands. (Or you can use a knife to cut them.)

Boiled cabbages

5. Sieve the broth (from step 3) through the strainer and catch the broth in a large bowl. Also, keep the pork bones but discard any boiled spices/vegetables. It should result in about just under 5 cups of broth.

Sieving bone broth

6. Transfer the broth into a clean pot (I used my favorite braiser pot) then add back the pork bones, potatoes, cabbage leaves, and the seasoning base into the pot. Boil over medium high heat until the potatoes cook completely (10 to 15 mins).

Boiling gamjatang

7. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining vegetables (mung bean sprouts, crown daisy leaves, perilla leaves, and green chilies) and the ground sesame seeds into the pot and boil for a further 1 to 2 mins until they soften. Serve warm with steamed rice.

Boiling Gamjatang (Korean Pork Bone Soup) on gas bunner


Boiling Gamjatang (Korean Pork Bone Soup) on gas bunner

Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup)

Korean pork bone soup
4.93 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: neck bone, pork bone
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 4
Calories: 197kcal
Author: Sue | My Korean Kitchen

Ingredients

MAIN

  • 1.4 kg pork neck bone (3 pounds), (try to pick the bones with lots of meat on them)
  • 7 cups water
  • 3 potatoes (500 g / 1.1 pounds), peeled & cut into smaller chunks
  • 6 napa cabbage leaves (300 g / 10 ounces), rinsed
  • 100 g mung bean sprouts (3.5 ounces), rinsed
  • 30 g crown daisy leaves (1 ounce), rinsed (optional)
  • 6 perilla leaves , thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 green chilies , thinly sliced (optional)

AROMATIC VEGETABLES

  • 1 onion (160 g / 5.6 ounces), peeled & halved
  • 30 g green onion (1 ounce), white part only
  • 5 cloves garlic (30 g / 1 ounce), peeled
  • 1 ginger (5 g / 0.2 ounce), peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper

SEASONING BASE (MIX THESE WELL IN A BOWL)

OTHER CONDIMENTS

Instructions

  • Soak the pork bones in cold water for at least 1 hour (to get rid of any excess red liquid that looks like blood). Drain away the water. (If you can, try to change the water every 15 mins.)
  • Place the bones into a large pot and add enough water to cover the bones, then boil it for about 10 minutes over medium high heat, covered. Drain away the water and rinse the bones in cold running water.
  • In a large clean pot, place the bones and add the water (7 cups) and all ingredients from the “aromatic vegetables” section. Simmer it on medium to low heat for 1 hr 30 mins, covered.
  • While the bone broth is simmering;
    (1) Put the potatoes in a separate pot and add enough water to cover them. Boil it over medium high heat until the potatoes are nearly cooked (about 90%). Drain away the water and set aside the potatoes until needed.
    (2) In a separate pot, add some water and the salt (1/8 tsp) and boil it. Once the water is rapidly boiling, parboil the napa cabbage for 1 to 2 mins. Drain away the water and cool down the leaves. Tear down each leaf length ways with your hands. (Or you can use a knife to cut them.)
  • Sieve the broth (from step 3) through the strainer and catch the broth in a large bowl. Also, keep the pork bones but discard any boiled spices/vegetables. It should result in about just under 5 cups of broth.
  • Transfer the broth into a clean pot, then add back the pork bones, potatoes, cabbage leaves, and the seasoning base into the pot. Boil over medium high heat until the potatoes cook completely (10 to 15 mins).
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining vegetables (mung bean sprouts, crown daisy leaves, perilla leaves, and green chilies) and the ground sesame seeds into the pot and boil further 1 to 2 mins until they soften. Serve warm with steamed rice.

Notes

*1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml

Nutrition

Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 961mg | Potassium: 973mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1855IU | Vitamin C: 30.9mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 7.4mg
Tried this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Leave a comment below or Tag me on Instagram @MyKoreanKitchen.

 

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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: May 13, 2019

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the creator of My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

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60 thoughts on “Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup)”

  1. This is my favorite Korean food. I’ll highly recommend this Pork bone stew for a try! You’ll love it, just like I do🥰

  2. Recipe is amazing. I used an instant pot for the bone broth to save time, and added extra fish sauce for the umami flavour. Tastes just like restaurants. It is very smart to cook the potatoes and cabbage separately. Everything retains their flavour and shape. Thank you so much for this!

  3. Hi Unnie! So I was about to cook this and I realize that I forgot to by the rice wine so I went to buy it but they didn’t have the mirin rice wine… they have this kwangtung mijui rice wine… can I use this instead? The ingredient was rice wine and 1.5% salt? I could buy the rice wine mirin but the korean store we have here is far…

    PS. I made your gochujang sauce for bibimbap and its the best!

  4. Thanks ! It bring back some nice memories. However, I was wondering why not cooking it “one pot”: putting the spicy mixture from the begining and adding the potatoes after one hour. I think it can make the broth thicker.

  5. You’re fabulous! Your recipe was fantastic!
    Love you…..
    My husband loved the soup last weekend , he requested it again.

  6. When I found your recipe I was dying to make it because it is definitely an authentic korean recipe. Will be feeding a family of 5 for dinner tonight!So excited- it smells and tastes delicious. I just made a few changes per my korean mother’s suggestion 🙂 I added 2 carrots and celery sticks for a more flavorful broth and I added perilla seeds when adding the seasoning mix at the end. Since I was making a larger pot I basically doubled all the ingredients. Came out delicious, thanks! Looking forward to trying your other recipes

  7. I have to figure out where to get crown daisy leaves and 6 perilla leaves. But this is the kind of soup that makes Asia the World’s best soup experts. Light, full of complex flavors and so healthy. I wonder if any good Korean restaurant has this. I just can’t wait o make this. Need to have it now. Great job Sue.

    • You don’t “have to” add crown daisy leaves and perilla leaves if you can’t get them. The soup will just lack some flavor and fragrance, but it will be still good. I bet a lot of people will be in the same boat unfortunately. Anyway, enjoy my recipe! 🙂

  8. 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 .

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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…

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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.

  22. 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 ^_*

  23. 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. 🙂

  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. 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 =)

  29. 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 🙂

  30. 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.

  31. 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!!!!

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