Before you read on, I must apologize for the lack of photos that this post will have, I seemed to have been to focused on the ‘cooking’ part and sort of, kind of forgot to take pictures of the step-by-step process of making this soup.
I used Galleria Supermarket’s Gamjatang recipe as a base for the soup. For anyone that doesn’t know about Galleria, it is a well-known Korean supermarket around where I live. I found that the recipe mentioned doesn’t clearly state the step-by-step instructions for first time soup makers and or people that have never tasted gamjatang before. I added my own ingredients and used a different approach with making this soup, as I have my brother (he’s cooked this before and has invested time in Korean dishes) to help. Actually, my whole family helped and contributed into making the soup. My dad first boiled the pork bones in cold water. Then, he rinsed and washed the bones with water, washing away the excess foamy-like substance (you will know what I am talking about if you ever boiled meats before).
Put the bones in a pot with 10 cups of water (following the recipe). You may find that the bones (along with the meat stuck to the bone) are not 100% fully cooked. THIS IS OKAY! No need to panic as this is fine and the meat/ bones will have a chance to cook all the way through once the soup is boiling.
For this part, I modified the recipe. I put 10-12 fresh ginger slices into the bone-water pot and let that come to a boil. Meanwhile, I sliced more ginger and onion, and had the soy bean paste, chilli flakes prepared and ready to put in the pot once the water came to a boil. I removed the 10-12 slices of ginger from the boiling water and added the ingredients I had just prepared. I put the boiling mixture on medium heat and let that simmer for about an hour. (The recipe asks you to boil the bones with ginger slices. Strain the bones out and boil 10 cups of water. I found this step unnecessary as why would you boil the bones with ginger water, strain them and then boil the bones with water again? It made no sense to me, but it’s your choice when following a recipe.)
Just before the hour was up, I had my mom mince garlic (she is really good a chopping ingredients and in the kitchen, in general) as I prepared the rest of the ingredients needed to make the soup (hot pepper paste and flakes, cooking wine, fish sauce and perllia seeds). I just realized that the recipe asked for perilla seed powder, but I just put the seeds in. I don’t think it makes a difference, as I couldn’t taste it and it just gave a crunch when drinking the soup. Don’t re afraid of using fish sauce as it gives the soup saltness and there is no need to add extra salt (the soy bean paste is also salty). I also peeled some potatoes and added them to the soup. The potatoes don’t need a long cooking time.
There is going to be some soup foam (as mentioned above). You can choose to remove it with a fine sieve or just leave it in. Removing the foam just makes the soup more presentable. At the hour mark, add the rest of the ingredients and let it boil for another 30 minutes. I decided to add some leftover leeks I had in the fridge the every last minute. This totally changed the flavour of the soup as the leek added a sweetness to it.
Overall, I was pleased with my first attempt in making gamjatang. I wish I had held back in adding the leeks. It was more sweet than any other flavour. Gamjatang is supposed to be spicy. But oh well.
P.S. This is probably one of top rushed posts (when compiling the writing plus the pictures). And no matter how much I edit and re-read, I know it won’t be as appealing compared to previous posts I have written.
P.P.S. I’m sorry if you are confused with this post as I am aware that I have jumped all over the place, back and forth with following the recipe or not.
P.P.P.S. Please feel free to leave suggestions and comments for myself and other readers for improvement and notes.