Gamjatang – Pork bone and potato soup. This dish could easily be called the staple item or one of the most known Korean food among my closest circle.
It is my family favourite too. I could not think of my fam/parents visit without us devouring on gamjatang at one of our favourite Korean restaurant in town. I remember my late Dad loved this so much he would use his most extraordinary food critic slash foodie reaction to describe the taste of it, while trying to convince our fam friends to grab some with us *100% success rate with out-of-town visitors craving for more*. Ah I miss you appa 😘.
I also remember on one of my solo trip to Seoul, my dear dongsaeng offered me to stay at her apartment. The first food that we had, right after Eun-chong and her mom picked me up near Anyang station, was the unforgattable biji gamjatang/비지 감자탕.
Not only delicious, I often crave for a pot of boiling hot gamjatang on cold rainy days or whenever I need something spicy to cheer myself up. Thus, I call it a bowl of “Jeong” as it revolves – and often served -around comfort of bonds, found when I’m surrounded with with my family and friends.
I was exchanging “I am super hungry” and “I crave for some good. . . ” with my only and super cool and kind sunbae/선배 on messengers at work. And I casually mentioned “Ahhh..I want some gamjatang”. Last Saturday, she invited me to her place to have some makgeolli/막걸리 with her husband. And guess what! She made us some gamjatang 😍 because she remembered I mentioned wanting it. 감동 (touched) times infinity.
I helped her out by mixing the sesonings (by that I mean, listening at the instructions from her husband *I call him hyungboo – sister’s husband* and measuring it exactly as he said) and by asking a lot of questions while I watched 언니/unnie did her magic in the kitchen. Now I’m sharing you the recipe I screenshot from our chat. Good luck:
What you need:
Pork bone // potatoes // dried basil leaves // garlic (minced or whole) // green onion // onion // gochujang (고추장) – Korean chilli paste // doenjang (된장) – fermented soy bean paste // gochugaru (고추가루) – dried chilli flakes // perilla leaves // perilla seeds powder (들깨 가루) // cooking wine – mirim style // ginger powder
How to make:
– Soak the pork bone in cold water for about one hour to get rid of the blood
– Put the pork bone in boiling water and boil it for a bit then throw away the water
– Pour some water again, dunk potatoes in, put 3-5 dried basil leaves, garlic, onion cut in halves, green onion *important tips: include the peel of onions and the end part/root part of green onions to get rid of the meat smells*
– Scoop out the leaves and other floating objects after you boil it for a bit
– Put in the seasoning (: 1 spoon of doenjang, 3 spoons of gochujang, 1 spoon of cooking wine/mirim, 1 spoon of minced garlic, 1 spoon of ginger powder)
– Halfway after it boils for a while, pour out a good amount of gochugaru and bolit it down again until it turns yum red.
– Put in some perilla leaves and perilla seeds powder right before serving
It was yum and MSG free!
We had it with bossam/boiled pork wrap and shared some stories – from politics to relationship. I have only met hyungboo a couple of times. But he had shared insights for life that have helped me through some difficult curves. I honestly enjoy listening to his advices and he has a lot of jeong for his “I only have a few friends and dongsaengs”. Jeong/jung/chong is a Korean term that is really hard to describe in plain English.
Jeong is a particular sentimental attitude that goes beyond mere affection and loyalty. Jeong has multiple faces and it defined as “feeling, love, sentiment, passion, human nature, symphaty, heart”. It describes complex feelings or emotions such as an attachment or a bond – Dr. John Linton from various sources
A bowl of jeong that fills you up with warmth. Even when I was lectured by hyungboo and was given “a homework” to work on/help to solve my 고민/worry, I know it was out of “Jeong”. Man, I could never thank God enough for the jeong(s) I have in life.