So, it's the Hubs' birthday (which date I keep forgetting), and in an attempt to be a "good dutiful" wife, I'm cooking Korean cuisine every day all week to celebrate his Korean heritage.
We're kicking off the all-Korean week with Gamja-Tang, a spicy soup traditionally made with pork spine. Since we can't get pork spine in this part of the world, I made do with a mix of pork ribs and pork neck. It's one of our favourite Korean foods, and near-impossible to find a worthwhile rendition here in SG.
The key to this soup is perilla leaves, a cousin of Japanese shiso leaves. It's a little minty, a little cool, and a lot refreshing. It's not the easiest thing to find in SG, but I've discovered that Isetan supermarket sells it! It's called "egoma leaves", as in Japan.
Ingredients (feeds 4):
1 kg pork ribs/neck with bones
Boil for stock (A):
1 small yellow onion, cut large chunks
6 cloves garlic, smashed
4 slabs ginger, from 1 thumb size
1 scallion, white parts only
10 black peppercorns
8 cups water
Seasoning (B) (this makes a 1 person portion of paste):
5 tbsp gochugaru (red chilli pepper flakes)
2 tbsp gochujang (red pepper paste)
2 tbsp doenjang (bean paste)
3 tbsp guk kanjang (Korean light soy sauce)
10 cloves garlic, minced
5 tbsp deulkkae-garu (perilla powder)
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp saeujoet (Korean salted fermented shrimp)
10 leaves napa cabbage, cut into 2" lengths
8 potatoes, cut into 2" cubes
20 perilla leaves (ggaennip)
1) Par-boil pork ribs in enough water to cover the ribs, about 8 minutes. (This rids the pork of its "porky weighty stench") Drain and set aside.
2) Return par-boiled pork to stew pot with (A) ingredients, bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 2 hours, or until pork is fall-off-the-bone tender. Drain everything but 6 cups of stock and pork ribs.
3) Mix the ingredients at (B). You will need to multiply this amount by 4 times, for a 4 person portion.
4) The resultant paste should look like this.
5) Return the pork, stock, to stew pot, with napa cabbage and mixed paste, and bring to boil.
6) Add potatoes, and boil for 15 minutes.
7) Just before serving, add perilla leaves to wilt.
8) Salt to taste, and garnish with sesame seeds and freshly milled white pepper.