Because it’s never too hot for Korean

I am literally sweating as I type this out.

Partly because it’s been hot in the Bay all week. Partly because I’ve been standing over a boiling pot of soup for the past hour. Partly because this pork neck and potato stew is full of chili pepper paste and powder.

I don’t make as much Korean food as I’d like to. It’s normally a long process, and there are a ton of ingredients that go into each dish. But then I bought this awesome Korean cookbook from Amazon and decided it’s time to get back to my roots.

If you’d like to start with something easy, Korean soups and stews are the best way to get familiar with Korean flavors! Gamja tang literally translates to “potato stew”, but the key ingredient in this dish is pork neck bones.

You’ve probably seen braised tofu on Chinese menus, but Koreans have their own version that’s got the added bonus of gochugaru, a red chili pepper powder we use in basically everything.


For the soup:

  • 2 pounds pork neck bones with meat
  • 1 tablespoon red chili pepper powder (gochugaru)
  • 1 tablespoon Korean soy bean paste (doenjang. Do NOT use Japanese miso! It’s completely different)
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 6 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 Anaheim chile
  • vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • green onion for garnish

For the tofu:

  • 1 package firm tofu, cut in 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • vegetable oil
  • green onion for garnish

First, the soup. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Put the pork neck bones in a roasting pan and make sure they are generously covered in oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the bones for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

While the bones are roasting, make the base for your stew by combining the soy sauce, gochugaru, gochujang, doenjang, mirin, garlic, and sesame seeds in a bowl. Take the seeds out from the Anaheim chile and cut the pepper into thin slices, and cut the potatoes into large chunks.

When the bones are nice and caramelized, put those in a pot along with the soup base, 4 cups of water, potatoes, and Anaheim chile. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer for an hour.

While the soup is cooking away, work on the tofu! Whisk together the soy sauce, water, garlic, ginger, gochugaru, sesame oil, sugar, and mirin. Set the bowl aside.

Put a generous amount of vegetable oil into a large pan. When the oil is hot, carefully place the tofu slices into the oil and fry until golden. Make sure you leave some space between the pieces, you may have to fry them in two batches.

Place the tofu on a paper towel lined plate to remove some of the excess oil. Leave about a tablespoon of oil in the pan, wait for it to cool down a bit, and then add the soy sauce mixture. If you pour this in while the pan and oil are still very hot you will have a splattering mess all over your kitchen, so be careful! Add the tofu back into the pan (it’s okay if it’s all packed in now) and braise the tofu in the liquid for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Once the liquid starts to reduce and becomes a bit sticky the tofu is ready.

Remove the tofu to a plate and garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.

By now your soup should be ready! When the meat is easy to remove from the bones with just a spoon you’re good to go. Spoon some in a bowl and garnish with – surprise surprise – green onion.

(Why do Koreans put green onion on everything?)

Either way, this is an incredibly satisfying meal.




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