Have you ever heard of gamjatang?
Gamjatang is soup made with pork neck bones and vegetables. Sizzling hot gamjatang is hearty and savory which makes it always popular at the dinner table. The soft fatty meat picked from the gaps between the bones is especially tasty. The fully cooked cabbage and bean sprouts in the stock turn soft yet retain a crispy texture. Gamjatang makes a perfect, satisfying meal when paired with a bowl of rice.

And another selling point is that the main ingredient, pork neck bones (or spine bones) is very cheap. Combined with lots of vegetables, this soup is full of nutrients.

It’s unclear how this dish got it’s name. Some of you may know that gamja in Korean is potatoes. This soup always includes a cooked potato, so is that why it’s called gamjatang? But some people say gamja refers to the delicious meat around the pork spine bones, and that’s where it got its name. It’s still controversial and no one knows the true answer.

Some of you will remember that actually I posted the recipe long time ago, in 2009! Last month I had an event with my friend Hooni Kim at his New York restaurant. He’s also the head chef there and we made dinner and collaborated on some dishes. I entertained the readers who came to the restaurant to meet me, it was wonderful to see them.

One of my readers told me she makes gamjatang from my recipe very often and she always gets compliments from her family whenever she makes it. I realized I had forgotten about my gamjatang recipe because it was posted so long ago! I said: “The video must be blurry and low quality. Can you still learn the recipe from the video?” She said: “Yes, the recipe is still good!”

When I got home that night, I went back to watch my old gamjatang video. Oh my! I could make it better now with my HD camera and more accurate measurements. It decided to remake the video with a few changes to the original recipe.

Do you want to know what’s different? I skipped buchu (asian chives) and cooking wine this time because without them, I found it still tastes so good! And I simplified some of the process when I blanch the bones. I also soak the bones only 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. What else? Yes, I added 11 cups of water instead of 10 cups of water (my old version). So I can say that my revisiting this recipe means you can make a more delicious dish in less time now. : )

Good luck with making gamjatang. I’m looking forward to meeting you someday and hearing the story about the wonderful gamjatang you made from this recipe! : )

These are some tips for you if you make gamjatang tomorrow! : )

    1. Pork neck bones are found in the freezer section at a Korean grocery store. Try to choose bones with a lot of meat.
    2. My recipe is for 2 to 3 servings. If you want to make it for 4-6 servings, double the recipe and cook longer.
    3. Blanching and washing the bones is a very important step because it will remove the unpleasant smell from the bones and make a clear soup.
    4. You can replace perilla leaves with basil leaves and perilla seeds powder with sesame seeds powder.

The best perilla seeds powder to use is hulled and finely ground with a creamy color. You can also use toasted and ground, which is coarse and dark and kind of hard to swallow. Best to mix with water and strain and squeeze it, and use the water that is squeezed out in your gamjatang and discard the dregs. You can also grind whole toasted perilla seeds and then mix them with water, strain and squeeze out the milky liquid and use it. And if you can’t find any of these you can replace perilla seeds powder with sesame seeds powder.

From left, skinned and ground powder, coarsely ground perilla seeds, and whole toasted perilla seeds


Makes 2-3 servings.

For seasoning paste:


Cooking time: 2 hours.

Prepare the bones and broth

  1. Rinse the pork bones a couple of times and soak in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cabbage for 1 minute and then take it out with tongs.
  3. Keep the hot water boiling, we’ll use it later for blanching pork bones.
  4. Rinse the cabbage in cold water and strain. Tear the leaves in lengthwise once or twice to make it long bite sized pieces.
  5. Put the bones into the boiling water and cover. Let them cook for 7 minutes over medium high heat. The water will turn dark and some foam will come to the surface.
  6. Strain the bones and wash each one in cold running water to remove any extra fat, dark foamy stuff, and bone fragments. Put the cleaned bones into a large pot.
  7. Add ginger, soy bean paste, dried shiitake mushrooms, onion, dried red pepper, and 11 cups of water. Cover and cook for 90 minutes over medium high heat.

While it cooks, make the seasoning paste

  • Combine garlic, hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, fish sauce, perilla seeds powder, ground black pepper, and ¼ cup water in a bowl.
  • Mix well until creamy.


  1. 90 minutes later, open the pot. Take out the 2 shiitake mushrooms and put them on your cutting board. Add the cabbage, soy bean sprouts, 3 green onions, and the peeled potatoes.
  2. Slice the mushrooms thinly and put them back to the pot. Add the seasoning paste. Add ¼ cup water and cover.
  3. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes over medium high heat until the potatoes are fully cooked. Test them by poking one with a chopstick or a bamboo skewer. If the chopstick goes through easily, it’s fully cooked.
  4. Add the perilla leaves and stir. You can serve right away with rice and a few more side dishes.


There are a few ways to serve, depending on how you like it:

  • Ladle the soup into individual bowls and sprinkle each with some chopped green onion. You can also reheat the soup in earthenware bowls and then serve them to the table bubbling hot.
  • Put all the soup in a large shallow pot, and sprinkle some chopped green onion over top. Put the pot in the center of the table along with the rice and some other side dishes. You can share it all together. I recommend giving out small individual bowls and a ladle so that people can put some soup in their bowl and enjoy it that way, instead of eating from the pot in the middle of the table.

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  1. EricaC Ottawa, Canada joined 9/22 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!

    Thanks for the recipe! This turned out so yummy!

    I let the broth simmer for 12 hours, uses your sesame sees substitute, and replace gochijang (which I didn’t have) with a half teaspoon of sugar. I also didn’t have any vegetables except potato, onion, and green onion but it still turned out fabulous.

    Thank you!


    See full size image

  2. takubon USA joined 11/21 & has 1 comment

    I made Gamja Tang, but too much amount I made.
    Could you tell me how can I make arrange with leftover Gamja Tang ?
    (only left soup and some nappa cabbages in that soup )

    Thank you .

  3. laicommadarren Los Angeles joined 10/18 & has 1 comment

    I have cooked this many times and it’s delicious! But I wonder if you can add a dipping sauce recipe like the ones I see at restaurant? It has onion and mustard and maybe some sugar and soy sauce but I don’t know what else.

  4. AyaChi236 Brampton, Ontario Canada joined 5/20 & has 3 comments

    Thank you for your tasty recipe! Everyone in my family loves my Gamjatang! They said it is way more better than restaurant bought!

    Thank you! ♥️♥️♥️

    See full size image

  5. Yumu USA joined 7/19 & has 1 comment

    Hi, mangchi

    I only have ssamjang, Can I use this instead of doenjang?

  6. Torontojax Toronto , canada joined 6/19 & has 1 comment

    I runout of shietake mushroom so I used black fungus instead. About the perilla leaves , I substituted oregano leaves, the leaves are looked alike but oregano has pleasant flavor, so far the pork stew came out excellent.

  7. 1SpicyWonBok& has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I love your cooking! It reminds me of my mother’s, she grew up in Incheon.

    I’m diabetic and I was wondering, can I take the potatoes out of this recipe or use daikon instead? I cannot eat too many carbs.

    Thank you for all your recipes!

  8. Joanneyeung101 New York joined 8/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi mangchi. I bought green perilla seeds by accident.
    How do I use that on this recipe.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      First wash and drain them and then grind them with a blender with some water. If you don’t have a blender then use a mortar and pestle. First grind them into a paste and then add water.

      Then strain and use the strained water in the recipe.

  9. Berry Pearl of the orient seas joined 7/17 & has 3 comments

    Hi maangchi. If i use pressure cooker, how much water shoukd i put? How long will i have to wait?

  10. Berry Pearl of the orient seas joined 7/17 & has 3 comments

    I love it! My boyfriend says it’s now his new favorite, next to sunuri haejangguk in anyang. I’ll try making haejangguk next!

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  11. doublegogi stl joined 4/17 & has 1 comment


    Terrific recipe!

    Quick question: The water level after adding 11 cups of water (Step 7 of “Prepare bone broth) seems much higher than the water/broth level shown in Step 2 and 3 of “Finish,” even though everything has been cooking while covered. How is water/broth being reduced like that? I’m afraid my gamjatang is turning out a bit too watery–and I suspect some folks are having similar issues with theirs being too bland. Thanks for your help, and may the world run on gamjatang

  12. O, Joo-Hwan Las Vegas, Nevada USA joined 2/17 & has 10 comments

    Made this after a trip to the market yesterday. Came out perfect. Meat is really tender and has a very clean flavor. Also made 두부장아찌 tofu pickles as a side dish.

    See full size image

  13. sa_pilipina Kunsan City joined 6/09 & has 3 comments


    Are you able to tell us what to do with the left over sauce? In Korea, after eating most everything from the pan (its cooked at your table like samgupsal) they bring rice, and seaweed I think, mix it in the sauce. That is when the rice is consumed, not white rice along with the dish.. at least in Kunsan City….

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