There are some dishes that you can have a hard time persuading people to eat. Gopchang (intestines) is one (here). Gamjatang (감자탕) is another.
Gamjatang literally stems from the word potato and I can confirm there are often potatoes in this dish. However what you are really there for are the hunks of pork spine which are littered around a big bowl of spicy Korean soup.
Like many Korean dishes this one has a synergy with alcohol and, unsurprisingly, soju. It is particularly appropriate to drink this with soju as it is a slow burner. You get a big pot and have to bubble and stew it down to further tenderise the spine and potatoes.
As you do this the spices intensify and the sweetness of the sweet potato based soju helps cut it. As done the rampant drunkness caused by the soju.
You then slowly wiggle your chopsticks in and out of the cavities of the spine sucking the meat out like some porcine equivalent of a crab. I think gamjatang is a must have on any visit to Korea for me. The mixture of spice, a base cut of pork and the style of eating it slowly and communally kind of epitomizes the Korean style of food to me.
And best of all it is bloody delicious. The meat is some of the most tender you will have and the bits of spinal fluid and marrow add further depth and sweetness to it.
The final cool thing about this is that this is true ‘peasant’ food which means that it is cheap. When you check the pile of receipts in your pocket the next day with a painful head it may well be less than your taxi ride home and definitely less than your after-party at a room salon.
- Name – Deh-han mingook Deh-Pyo Gamjatang (대한민국 대표 감자탕)
- Address – South Korea, Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Hannam-dong, 634-1 (TeJc Gmap here)
- Price – cheap