Korean spicy pork & potato stew


Meat and potatoes. A combination seen in many/most cultures, it’s a combination with infinite reincarnations from the most run of the mill burger ‘n fries to Shepard’s pie or even a hearty Irish stew! Regardless the dish, this combination of protein and carbs usually signifies comfort food – hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare that’ll fill you up and have you as sleepy as a bear getting ready to hibernate. Indeed, after the heavy calorie consumption that these dishes usually entail, you might as well curl up and sleep off the calories for a few weeks and dream some happy happy dreams!

In keeping with this trend of meat + potatoes = hibernation, the Korean dish that I have for you today falls into a category of foods known as ‘ahnjou‘. What does that mean, you ask? Simply put, foods in the ‘ahnjou‘ category are very commonly consumed when one is drinking…though I’d recommend keeping the alcohol to moderate levels, cuz if you think chilli burns on the way down, it burns even more on the way back up! (Not that I speak from experience, of course.) Though the direct translation of this dish means ‘potato stew’, the potatoes are secondary to the tender, melt in your mouth pork that provides most of the grunt in this dish.

This is an extremely time consuming dish to make – if you want to have it that night for dinner, I recommend that you start it in the morning as it will pretty much take all day. Also, like kimchi, this is a very labour-intensive dish, particularly due to the Korean tradition of soaking meat to remove the blood and ‘scent’ from it, any dish that smells too much (e.g. pork smelling really ‘porky’) of the meat it contains is frowned upon as a sign of the inadequate skill of the cook – the flavours should not overpower each other (well, except the chilli) but work harmoniously to create an overall smooth flavour.

So if you feel the need to try a different meat-and-potato dish from the ones you’re used to, roll up your sleeves and give this a go! Of course, in favour of tradition, just make sure there’s a few bottles of good quality soju on the table as well to make your dining experience truly authentic 😉


Gamja Tang
(Korean Potato Stew)

Ingredients (feeds approx 8)
2kg pork spine bones (with meat on)
1/2 head Chinese cabbage, rinsed and core cut out
6-8 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped in half

Soup Stock
1 large yellow onion, peeled
2-3 spring onions, washed of any grit
10 black peppercorns
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 knob of ginger

Seasoning (warning, this is OUR seasoning and we like our food hot-hot-hot, if you don’t, I recommend that you reduce the amount of gochugaru)
1/2 head of garlic, minced
2 tbsp dwaenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
2 tbsp gochujjang (Korean fermented red chilli paste)
4 tbsp gochugaru (coarse red chilli powder)
2 tbsp finely ground perilla seed powder

Sesame seeds

1. Trim the bones of any large white globs of fat that you can see, then immerse the bones in water for an hour to soak out the blood. Drain the bones, then put them into a LARGE pot and cover with water. Slowly bring to a boil and leave to boil for 10 minutes, then throw out the water and drain the bones.

2. Give them a good clean under cold water, making sure you get rid of any scum clinging to their surfaces, then put them back in the pot and once again fill the pot so the bones are covered, then add all the ingredients under ‘Soup Stock‘ (onion, spring onions, peppercorns, garlic, ginger). Slowly bring to a simmer and leave to simmer for about 4-5 hours, or till the meat is tender and beginning to fall off the bone.

3. While the meat and soup stock is simmering, bring a smaller pot of water to the boil and add the Chinese/Napa cabbage leaves to the water, Leave them for 1-2 minutes just to blanch them, then remove them and give a quick rinse under cold water to stop them cooking further. Drain, and once they have cooled down, rip them into long shreds with your hands.

4. Once the soup has finished boiling, carefully remove the bones to a bowl and strain the soup, being careful to reserve the liquid (we are just removing the soup stock ingredients). Pour strained soup back into the pot, add the meat and potatoes and the seasoning ingredients (garlic, dwaenjang, gochujang, gochugaru, perilla seed powder), stir together and taste. At this stage, if you think you’d like it spicier, add more gochugaru to taste.

5. Boil the soup till the potatoes are completely cooked through, then add the blanched cabbage leaves and add salt, pepper and sesame seeds to taste. Simmer till the cabbage is tender and cooked through, then serve alongside rice and banchan – don’t forget the kimchi!

No, this is NOT one serve – the amount in this bowl will serve about 2-3 people, depending on just how hungry you are!

[tags]stew, pork, potatoes, Korean cuisine, Asian food, recipe[/tags]


  1. Mmmmm…I’d like to try this recipe with beef…would you recommend a cut/type of meat to try?

  2. Hmm, to be honest, I’d say it’d have to be either spine or perhaps ox tail – something that will withstand the long cooking process and not fall apart!

  3. I forsee difficulty finding perilla seed powder. Do you know what it’s called in Korean? Is it hard to find? The dish looks delish!

  4. Lee Hon Seng says:

    Hi Ellie,

    Thank you for posting ur Korean recipes. This will definitely help me get my fix of Korean food 😀 ….i sure miss eating Gamja tang and a few others.

  5. This tastes exactley like the bone soup in the little town we lived in in Korea.
    Thank you for posting this!

  6. @Dana – In korean, ask for ‘deulkkae garu’ :)

    @Lee Hon Seng – I hope you like the recipe :)

    @Missy – I’m so glad that you enjoyed this recipe :) Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

  7. how many calories are in this stew?

  8. Laura – No idea! Sorry, hard to keep track of that sort of thing with family recipes :)

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