Gamjatang, a traditional Korean soup, is one of the tastiest ways to eat pork neck, although not the only traditional preparation of this often-overlooked cut. In Southeast Asia, pork neck is usually marinated, grilled, and served with rice; in the Southern United States, it’s slow-roasted or used to make meaty collard greens.
- 1.5 kg pork neck
- 2 cm knob ginger, peeled
- 1 small onion
- 10 black peppercorns
- 10 garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp Korean red pepper powder
- 3 tbsp rice wine
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp perilla seed powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 4 small creamy potatoes, peeled
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 bunch Chinese cabbage (choy sum or bok choy)
- 10 perilla leaves
- 5 spring or green onions, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 2 hours
Soak the pork neck in cold water for 2 hours, changing the water halfway through. This step helps remove the blood from the bones.
In a large stockpot, boil the pork neck for 6 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water. Rinse out the stockpot as well. Return the pork neck to the stockpot and fill with enough cold water to cover the bones by 2 cm, then add the ginger, whole onion, peppercorns, and 4 cloves garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the meat pulls easily from the bones, about 1½ hours. As it simmers, create your flavouring sauce by blending the Korean red pepper powder, rice wine, fish sauce, perilla seed powder, ground ginger, and the remaining 6 cloves garlic; set aside.
Remove the pork neck from the stockpot with tongs and set aside. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the onion, ginger, garlic, and peppercorns. Return the pork neck to the pot; add the blended flavouring sauce and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the potatoes are softened, 15-20 minutes; add the cabbage and perilla leaves, cover, and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Garnish with green onions and freshly ground black pepper and serve.
• Perilla leaves and perilla seed powder bring a distinct taste to this dish. Perilla (ggaennip) is part of the mint family and is often compared to its Japanese variety, known as shiso. Perilla leaves look like nettle leaves and are often confused with sesame leaves. They are used in pickled dishes and wraps and as garnishes for soups, as in this recipe. If you can’t find them at your local Asian market, mint leaves and sesame seed powder are suitable substitutes for perilla leaves and seed powder.
Recipe from The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle by Russ Crandall, with photographs by Russ Crandall (Victory Belt Publishing, $34.95).