1/29/07

Seoul Food

I swear in another life I was Korean. It's weird. And it's a topic to get into another day, but for now:

Korean food. Mmm, Mmm, Mmm. I just love it.
Especially Gamja Tang.
Especially when it's cold outside.

Gamja Tang translates to potato soup. But essentially it's a spicy pork soup with potatoes and bean sprouts. Yummy.

I got hooked on Gamja Tang in Annendale, VA. with a former (who is Korean). I remember we were in this hole-in-the-wall restaurant. And I was reading the menu. I stopped on Gamja Tang and asked my former if I would like it. He said, "It's a very Korean dish. It's a spicy soup served in a hot pot. There are potatoes and pork. Try it. It's very good for you." I tried it. Oh dear lord, it was so good. I swear my eyes rolled back in my head and my toes curled.

I've had Gamja Tang in Virginia, New York City, and Los Angeles. Each time I ordered it, I got the look. The one that says: look at this little white girl. Ordering this soup. But the proprietors are too polite to say anything.
And it doesn't matter. The stuff is good.

After my former & I had parted company, I was sad. But more sad that he hadn't left me directions on how to get to some of the good Korean restaurants.
Some places I knew how to get to. Like the ridiculously good 'Cow Town' in Flushing, Queens.
Gamja Tang....seemed out of reach. It's not commonly served in most Korean restaurants that I have access to.

Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention.

In fact, believe it or not, I had forgotten about it. Until I became pregnant with Gracie. I had to have that soup.
I found a recipe on the internet. And figured how hard can this be?
I waddled into our nearest Korean grocery. I bought two hot pots, and all the necessaries for the soup.
The first batch, didn't come out too good. As I forgot the essential Doenjang (fermented soy bean paste).
But each batch I've made since rivals those that I've had from one coast to the other.

It's freezing here in our little state - on the East Coast. And today, I strolled into the Korean grocery and bought up the necessary ingredients for this fine soup.
The sweet Korean lady running the store asked me what I was going to make and I told her. She smiled this big, kind smile, her eyes got big. And she said, Oh, yeah? You make the gamja tang? I told her yes. I love it. I ate it when I was pregnant with my daughter. And she is so strong. She smiled even wider and said, yes. It is very good for you. They say it even help with the cancer. I told her how I had found out every bit of information about the soup in my search for a recipe. She seemed so happy to talk about the soup and just how good it is.

Now, it must be said....I'm stingy about my soup. But I have to share.
I figured since I have bored you to tears writing on and on about the soup, I'd atleast reward you with the "recipe". Recipe is stating it loosely. I'll list the ingredients. But there are no measurements. I basically just use as much as I think is necessary and taste as I go.


Gamja Tang:

Pork ribs (how many lbs. - I haven't the slightest clue. Just go with your gut.)
Potatoes (probaby about 4, quartered or smaller)
Doenjang (again - no clue. But I think for a rather big pot of soup, I use about 1/2 of a big jar)
garlic (??? I love garlic. So, it stands to reason I use a good bit.)
red pepper ( again use your discretion - it's a spicy soup - but you don't need a lot)
green onion (about 3-4)
bean sprouts (the big, white ones - and again, no clue. I usually plop 2-3 good handfuls in)

Boil the pork ribs in water for about 2 hours. And then add potatoes, Doenjang, garlic, red pepper, and green onion. Once all of those ingredients are added, bring the soup back to a boil and add bean sprouts. Simmer until all is cooked through.
Accompany soup with rice.

It has a different flavor. Not many people I've come in contact with that have tried it, care for it. But it is said to have many health benefits and if this sounds like something you might have a hankering for, try it. I firmly believe that it gives my system a boost and a leg-up on warding off infections.
Happy cooking!
Oh and.....it's low in calories. So, that's something.


3 ripples in the pond:

deb said...

Pork ribs and low in fat, Tabba, did your nose grow when you wrote that? I've never had that soup but I'm the same way with spring rolls. I make my own now and they are wonderful, even taught my Asian neighbor how to make them. Her husband thought that was pretty funny. Enjoy the soup.

Tabba said...

Low in calories...or so those Koreans say. It may be just a ploy.

The soup is supposed to be made with a pork neck bone, but where does one find that? So, I just used these thinly sliced short ribs they have at the Korean grocery. There really is very little meat in the soup. You should mainly be eating the broth, the sprouts and some potatoes.

jen said...

honey, you need to go to korea.

eat it on the streets, for real.