First of all, I love Korean food. For me, Korean is one of a small number of truly comprehensive cuisines like Chinese, French, Indian, Italian, Greek and Spanish fares. The major categories of Korean food are certainly the wide array of appetizers (e.g., pajeon:파전pancakes), side dishes (e.g., kimchi:김치), deserts (rice cake songpyeon:송편), soups (e.g., chicken soup samgyetang:삼계탕) and of course the legendary table top barbeques (e.g., beef kalbi:갈비 and pork samgyeopsal:삼겹살). The one challenge I find as an American preparing Korean soups however is that they are quite complex in terms of ingredients and preparation time can literally exceed 24 hours. I am trying to simplify Korean Pork Neck Bone Soup (called Gamjatang) into a 3 hour exercise.
Step 1. Removing the Pork Smell
• 2 kg. (4.5 lbs.) pork neck bones
• 2 green onions (just the white part)
• 1 whole medium onion (peeled)
• 5 cloves of garlic (you can also use an equivalent amount of minced garlic)
• 1 tbsp. minced ginger (you can also use an equivalent amount of whole ginger)
• 10 whole black pepper seeds
• 8 single dried clove buds
Boil the pork neck bones vigorously for 5 minutes in just enough water to cover. Pour out the water, washing the meat, refill with water and return to the heat. Combine the pork neck bones and all of the above ingredients and boil on medium-low and slow cook for another 2 hours. Skim off any blood and fat as it foams on the surface (if any) being careful not to remove the clove buds, garlic and green onion stalks. Also add water periodically to make sure the bones stay covered. Stir occasionally to make sure the meat doesn’t stick to and burn on the bottom.
Step 2. Making the Paste
Strain the broth and return to the boiler. Add the pork neck bones discarding the boiled vegetables. In a bowl combine the following:
• 4-5 tbsp. red chili powder
• 1.5 tbsp. minced garlic
• 1 tsp. minced ginger
• 2 tbsp. Korean cooking wine (or white wine)
• 1 tbsp. Korean fish sauce (or white vinegar)
• 1 tbsp. water
Add the resulting paste to the boiler.
Step 3. Adding the Vegetables
• 8 Chinese cabbage leaves (rinsed)
• 2-4 green chili peppers (rinsed and sliced on an angle)
• 4 medium potatoes (peeled and halved)
Add the vegetables to the boiler and boil on high for 10. Cook for another 15 minutes on medium-low until the potatoes are done.
Step 4. Finishing Up
• 2 cups bean sprouts
• 1 tsp. perilla (seasame) seeds (roasted)
• 12 perilla (sesame) leaves (shredded)
• salt and ground pepper to taste
Add the final ingredients and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately with rice. This is a great, spicy, morning after brunch by the way. Enjoy!