Cooking Gamjatang, Celebrating Korean Culture

Pork bone soup is one of my comfort foods and I finally took it off my cooking bucket list.

Our previous home was located in a Korean community. It was there that I discovered gamjatang at Owl of Minerva.

This restaurant is open 24 hours, so before T entered our lives, the hubby and I often went to satisfy 1 am pork bone soup cravings.

Korean culture has experienced a global renaissance – from “Parasite” being the first foreign language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars to the record-breaking success of the Netflix series, “Squid Game.”

The hubby introduced T to K-Pop. This catchy song below by BlackPink was on rotation during this summer’s roadtrips.

I love that T is growing up in a city with diverse cultures and has classmates from all around the world. This will enrich his life.

When I was a bit older than T is now, I invited a friend – who was Greek – for a sleepover and Ma made chicken adobo, a Filipino meat dish cooked in heavy soy sauce and vinegar.

I remember feeling very self conscious as I watched his curious reaction and had wished for pizza to feed him instead.

As an adult, I crave and proudly share my culture’s cuisine with the world.

I love discovering other types of cuisine too. While T is a picky eater, we expose him to them so he’ll get used to seeing and smelling them; hopefully, tasting more one day too!

Korean pork bone soup is a dish I’ve been wanting to make forever.

I’ve put it off because it seemed intimidating.

I’ve often written about how cooking is one of my self-care routines.

The past week was particularly challenging and so I decided to tackle this Instant Pot recipe. Getting lost in a cooking challenge often restores my balance.

As people who cook will tell you, the process is often more rewarding than the end.

I enjoyed going to the Asian supermarket to hunt down my ingredients, like “Asian cuts” of pork neck bone and Korean condiments such as gochujang (chili pepper paste) and doenjang (soybean paste).

I love the meal prep process, when I first lay out the ingredients in a colorful spread.

It’s akin to the satisfying before and after of fixer upper renovation shows.

I first boiled the pork neck bone for 5 minutes to remove excess fat and then rinsed them in cold water.

I then laid the soup stock into the Instant Pot: 3 ginger slices, 6 cloves of crushed garlic, 4 stalks of green onion (white part), 1 onion quartered, 2 bay leaves, 2 tbsps of doenjang (soybean paste), 2 tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce.

I layered the pork neck bone on top, added 7 cups of water and pressure cooked on high for 22 minutes.

While the Instant Pot then naturally released for 15 minutes, I prepared a mixture of 6 garlic cloves minced, 1/3 tbsp of ground black pepper and 2 tbsp of gochujang (chili pepper paste).

I opened the Instant Pot and then scooped this mixture into the boiling soup.

I added in potatoes (halved) and Napa cabbage into the soup and let it boil for 20 minutes, so the broth would thicken.

The hubby dug out a black ceramic bowl from storage in our basement, which we hadn’t used in many years.

I served my portion in this bowl and it looked like legit restaurant-served gamjatang!

While it wasn’t Owl of Minerva level, I was very happy with how it turned out! The meat melted off the bone.

Even the hubby, who normally dislikes meat on bone, enjoyed his dinner and complimented the taste of the broth.

It was a satisfying journey and outcome – and I felt better again.

As we enjoyed our soup, T calmly enjoyed a panda-shaped chocolate popsicle. The packaging was in Chinese text, so I’m counting that as exposing T to ethnic cuisine!

After the up-and-down week we had, it was a wonderful way to spend quality family time on a cool autumn Saturday evening.

20 thoughts on “Cooking Gamjatang, Celebrating Korean Culture

  1. That Soup looks delicious. My Family and I also enjoy trying different kinds of International Cuisines. We bought a hot pot that is both for soup and grill when Pandemic started. So many Family food adventures and discoveries since then. It is important also to share with our Kids our Culture Foods. My Son didn’t like them when he was smaller but now, he eats all even “Dinuguan” or pork blood and meat soup. For some reason, he is not much of an Adobo fan. Last time, he enjoyed ox tongue for the first time. I guess he is maturing. Happy Holidays my friend. Also an inspiration to read your stories and thoughts. And the pictures, super amazing.

    1. That hot pot sounds like a wonderful investment both for soup and grilling purposes!

      I would love a big serving of diniguan right now on a heap of steaming white garlic fried rice. 🙂 Kare Kare too!

      Enjoy your upcoming holidays! I can’t believe Christmas is just 8 days away! 🙏💕🎄

      1. Thanks. It’s Christmas Party Dinner with co-workers at max fried chicken tonight. It’s my first Christmas party since covid began . Can’t wait for the foooooooood.🙏

    1. Thank you, Lizi! Looks like we both a Korean food theme post this week. The only thing my meal was missing was a big side plate of kimchi!

  2. WOW!!!! This looks SO delicious. I have never seen pork neck where I live, maybe at a butcher. The hot pepper paste must make it have so much flavor and I would love to try it in one of my other recipes. I love this recipe but I don’t like a instapot. I have a pressure cooker in my Ninja and still haven’t tried it because I was so disappointed in the instapot. Thank you for sharing this and a great job on the picture with that bowl!!!!

    1. Thank you, Diane! I take that as a high compliment coming from you. 😊

      Asian supermarkets are interesting cuz you’ll see every part of the meat there, including organs etc. Definitely can feel queasy making but opens up the possibilities. I also love the idea of going to a butcher and seeing all the possibilities!

      Do let me know if you try this recipe. I’m sure you will put your own unique twist to it! 😊

      Sorry you don’t like the Instant Pot. What was disappointing to you? I quite enjoy it but it’s cuz I’m lazy and don’t have the patience for slow cooking. 😂

      I really wish to have a Ninja one day and keep hinting to my Santa to get me one. Maybe this will be the year! 😆

  3. That looks like quite the feast!! That’s awesome that you try to share your culture’s cuisine with your family and the rest of the world. It’s funny to look back and compare what I ate when I was a kid to now. I’m so glad my sense of taste and adventure have evolved!!

    1. Thanks Linda! We’re pretty lucky that things are fairly diverse, if not more so these days in the GTA area! I was just reading about a West African restaurant in Scarborough that sounded delicious. Lots to try.

      Enjoy your week. How is it Monday again already?!

  4. My 5-year-old Grandson turned me onto the S. Korean group BTS – and I am now a huge fan!
    As a vegetarian, I wouldn’t be able to eat the soup but I thought your cooking blog and photos were spectacular – ENJOY!

    1. Thanks Vickie. I will admit that the K-Pop genre eludes me right now but glad the hubby, T, you and your grandson love it!

      I know you’re a Survivor fan and if you haven’t tried it, the Netflix dystopian drama series Squid Game is like Survivor but much darker (and fictional)!

  5. Wow, that sounds like a great way to cook off the steam of a hard week. Love the cultural richness of T’s education, even if his palate hasn’t opened to it yet. Hope the rest of your weekend was just as satisfying!

    1. Thanks Wynne. You just made me realize the pressure cooker is a nice apt metaphor. After intense pressure, you gotta release some steam and enjoy the resulting goodness. Ok, that’s a bit of a literary stretch. 😆

      Rest of weekend was good. Just came back from dropping off a big bowl of the leftover soup to my mom’s. 😊

      Hope yours was good too!

      1. I don’t think that’s a literary stretch at all. Cooking and eating metaphors seem to work well with life since 100% of us eat! 🙂

        Glad to hear you had a good weekend! Ours was too.

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