Gamjatang, or pork back-bone stew, is a dish loved by tourists as much as locals for its savory, not too spicy broth and melt-in-your-mouth pork. To counterbalance these mouth-watering charms is the difficult of actually eating it because getting the meat off the bone is a hassle; even some Koreans have a hard time. If you’ve ever wondered about the best way to eat gamjatang, just follow our five easy steps!
Depending on the restaurant, gamjatang can come as a single-serving in a stone hot pot, or in a large skillet as a shared meal for two or more people. While both options are fine, we recommend the shared version, as you can add additional ingredients and more broth.
If you ordered the shared version of gamjatang, your meal will be cooked over a table-top burner. The first thing you’ll need to do is turn it up to the highest heat possible. This will allow the various vegetables and meat to cook thoroughly. When the dish has boiled long enough, use the tongs to pick out a back-bone.
Place the bone on your plate and then pour a bit of the broth over it to keep it moist and flavorful. Let it cool off for a bit before eating. You can also try blowing on it, but be warned you still might burn your mouth if you’re too impatient. Most of the meat will easily fall off the bone but you can use your chopsticks for any stubborn bits.
Try a bite of the meat by itself, and then try it dipped in the mustard sauce provided. Both are delicious but many people find the sharp tang of the sauce-dipped meat to be super addictive.
You might think the meal is over after you’ve eaten all the meat and vegetables, but you’d be wrong. This is when you have bokkeumbap (fried rice). No matter how full you are, you can’t say you’ve had gamjatang if you skip out on the fried rice at the end. The fried rice mixed with cheese, salty laver, and kimchi cooked in the rich broth is one of the reasons people eat gamjatang. Most restaurants prepare the fried rice right at your table. You can enjoy it soft, or turn up the heat and enjoy the crunchy scorched rice version; the choice is up to you.
- The more you know, the more you enjoy!
- Where are the potatoes?!
- Since gamja means potato in Korean, it’s a common misunderstanding that gamjatang is a potato stew. Gamjatang is made with pork back-bone, dried radish leaves, dried cabbage, perilla leaves, green onion, and garlic. No potatoes in sight. So what’s with the name? Gamja can also mean the spinal cord of the pig, which is what gives the stew its name. If you were expecting soft potatoes in your stew, you can always order them as an add-in, available at most gamjatang restaurants.
- Cost of gamjatang
- The average price of gamjatang is 10,000 won for a single serving and anywhere from 15,000 won to 30,000 won for a two- to three-person serving. The price will also vary depending on if you ordered any add-ins.