Spicy Korean Pork Bone Soup (Gamjatang)

Difficulty Medium

Cozy, comforting, addictively delicious Gamjatang. Yes, you can make restaurant-worthy, mouthwateringly-tasty Korean Pork Bone Soup at home!

When I moved to Toronto, I discovered my city’s love affair with Gamjatang or Korean Pork Bone Soup.

As a home cook, I wondered: could it be possible to make this special Korean recipe at home? After years of tinkering in the kitchen, I can say — yes, it’s possible! You can definitely make restaurant-quality, authentic Korean Pork Bone Soup at home!

What is Gamjatang or Korean Pork Bone Soup?

Gamjatang is a hearty Korean stew starring knobby pork neck bones and a spicy, well-seasoned broth. Buttery, fall-off-the-bone pork and big chunks of potatoes make Korean Pork Bone Soup so cozy. A deeply nourishing stew that is a wintertime favorite!

Gamja means “potatoes” in Korean and Tang means “soup. Although there’s an abundance of potatoes in this homey soup — the gamja actually refers to the knobby look of the pork neck bones which are the star ingredient.

Pork neck bones are ESSENTIAL for this recipe. Inexpensive and budget-friendly, they can be found at Asian grocery stores. Although they don’t look particularly meaty or special, they contain lots of collagen and connective tissue. When boiled with aromatics, they create a deeply flavorful, heady, and tantalizingly delicious broth.


  • Pork Neck Bones. Find the meatiest ones you can.
  • Onions + Ginger + Bay Leaves. The essential aromatics.
  • Potatoes + Carrots. Adds body and flavor. I like yellow or Yukon Gold potatoes because of their flavor and texture.
  • Kimchi. Aged, mature kimchi is preferred.
  • Perilla Leaves. Optional but a generous sprinkling at the end adds earthy freshness.
  • Spicy Paste. Gochukaru, Gochujang, Fish Sauce, Sugar, Soy Sauce, Doenjang (Soybean Paste), and Maesil Cheong (green plum syrup), Mirin (cooking wine), and black pepper. For a deeply flavorful, well-seasoned gamjatang soup.
  • Ground Perilla Seeds. For earthy, nutty flavor. Also, thickens the stew. Can be subbed with ground sesame seeds but perilla seeds are the key to an authentic Gamjatang flavor.
  • Perilla Seed Oil. The finishing touch! You can sub with sesame oil but Perilla Seed Oil is a key ingredient to a spectacular Gamjatang Soup.


  1. Soak (raw) pork bones in cold water. Draws out all the blood for a cleaner-tasting broth.
  2. Parboil the pork bones! Truly the secret to good Korean soup. Parboiling removes all the fat and scum that leaches out from the bones to make a clear, milky-looking broth. Also provides delicious depth of flavor.
  3. Rinse the bones + wash the cooking pot. Wash away all those grimy fat particles. Also, don’t forget to wash the pot! There’s a surprising amount of scum that sticks to the sides.
  4. Cook pork bone broth. Add cleaned pork neck bones into the clean pot. Add aromatics and cook (covered) until the pork is buttery soft and tender, and falling off the bone. (Poke with a chopstick to make sure — it should slide in easily).
  5. Add potatoes and carrots and kimchi. Cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Add spicy paste. In a medium bowl, mix together the ingredients for the spicy paste. Add to the pork broth and cook until the flavors meld together.
  7. Serve and enjoy! Garnish with green onions, perilla leaves, sesame seeds, and extra chili pepper, if using. Serve hot with rice and kimchi. Enjoy!

Watch how to make it:

PRO Tips:

  • Check for meat tenderness with a chopstick. For buttery soft pork that falls off the bone, poke with a chopstick to check for tenderness. It should slip through easily.
  • Key ingredients: ground perilla seeds + perilla oil. Look for fresh, high-quality perilla seeds + perilla oil. In a pinch, they can be subbed with sesame seeds + sesame oil (they belong to the same family) but it won’t taste the same. Store leftover perilla seeds in the freezer and leftover oil in the fridge, as they can easily go bad at room temperature.
  • Combine the 3 Korean “jangs.” The powerful, fermented trio of doenjang (fermented soybean paste), gochujang (fermented chili paste), and ganjang (soy sauce or fermented soybeans) adds SO much delicious flavor when combined! Don’t leave it out!
  • Make it spicier! If you love spicy, add minced chili pepper and mustard seeds right before serving. Korean chilies, fresno or jalapeno peppers all work.
  • Make in advance. Gamjatang recipe can be made up to 2-3 days in advance. Simply cover and store in the fridge. Also an easy way to create a less oily broth — simply remove the hardened fat when chilled.

How to serve:

There are 3 ways to enjoy Gamjatang:

  1. Serve with rice and kimchi. Enjoy this hearty, stand alone soup as a main meal with rice and kimchi.
  2. Serve with instant ramen noodles. Gamjatang Ramen is a very popular dish in Korean restaurants. Partially cook ramen noodles (only 2 minutes) in a separate container then add to the Gamjatang. All the flavorful broth will soak into the noodles.
  3. Serve as a large, communal hot pot. Similar to Budae Jjigae, serve in the center and let everyone help themselves. Add sweet potato noodles (dang myun), rice cakes (tteok/dduk), and kraft cheese slices for a decandent, jungeol-style feast. And don’t forget to add an empty bowl to the table! People can dump their finished bones as they eat.


Can I make Gamjatang less spicy?

To make Gamjatang less spicy, reduce the Gochujang and Gochukaru. Or, leave it out entirely. When my kids were younger, I often made Gamjatang this way. The end result is a hearty pork bone soup that’s deeply flavored.

What’s a good substitute for the pork neck bones?

Pork neck bones can be found at most Asian markets. If you cannot find them, baby back pork ribs are a good substitute. Make sure to use pork ribs with a bone! The bone contains a lot of flavor, body, and depth.

Other Korean soups:

korean pork bone soup in a bowl with kimchi on the side

Spicy Korean Pork Bone Soup (Gamjatang)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Cozy, comforting, addictively delicious Gamjatang. Yes, you can make Korean Pork Bone Soup at home!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Soaking Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Soup
Cuisine Korean
Servings 2 as main, 4 as side
Calories 585 kcal


  • Large stock pot
  • Large colander


  • 3 lbs pork neck bones

For the broth:

  • 1 large onion, peeled + halved
  • 3 inch ginger, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled + cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup cabbage/Napa kimchi (old, mature kimchi preferred)

For the spicy paste:

  • 1/4 cup ground perilla seeds
  • 1/4 cup Doenjang
  • 2 Tbsp Gochujang
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Gochukaru
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin
  • 1 Tbsp Maesil Cheong or Korean green plum syrup (can be subbed with sugar or maple syrup)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For garnish:

  • 8-10 perilla leaves (fresh), sliced finely
  • 4 green onions, sliced finely
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 1-2 Tbsp Perilla Seed Oil (drizzled all over)

For extra spicy broth:

  • 1 Tbsp chili peppers, minced (per serving) (Korean chili pepper, fresno, or jalapeno all work well)
  • 1-2 tsp mustard seeds (per serving)


  • SOAK PORK NECK BONES: Add pork neck bones to a large bowl. Cover with cold water and soak for 30-60 minutes. (You can keep on the kitchen counter unless it's very warm in your kitchen, in which you should store in the fridge.) This removes all the blood to make a clearer, better tasting broth.
  • Drain and rinse in cold water. Transfer to a large stock pot.
  • PARBOIL PORK NECK BONES:  Add pork neck bones to a large stock pot.  Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  There will be a lot of scum and fat particles that rise to the surface.  Boil furiously for 5 minutes.
  • DRAIN AND CLEAN PORK NECK BONES: drain pork neck bones in a colander and rinse the bones under running cold water.  Make sure to rub off all the grime and fat particles that stick to the pork bones; use your hands to rub the bones and flesh under cold running water. Also, wash the pot in order to remove the scum and bits stuck to the side.  
  • MAKE BROTH:  Add clean, parboiled pork bones to the clean stock pot.  Add onion, ginger slices, and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover, about 6 cups.  Bring to a boil then lower heat.  Simmer, covered, until the meat is soft and falling off the bone, about 45-60 minutes.
  • Add potato, carrots, and kimchi. When the pork is tender and falling off the bone (poke with a chopstick to see if it goes through easily), add the potatoes, carrots, and kimchi.  Cover and cook until soft and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes more. 
  • MAKE SPICY PASTE:  While the potatoes and carrots cook, make the spicy paste.  In a medium bowl, add ingredients for spicy paste and mix well.  Add immediately to the simmering pot, mixing well so there are no big chunks.  Simmer until all the flavours come together, about 5-10 minutes more.    
  • GARNISH:  Add a few grinds of black pepper, a drizzle of perilla seed oil, and a generous sprinkling of finely sliced perilla leaves and green onions. Serve bubbling hot with rice, kimchi, and banchan (side dishes) of choice.  Enjoy! 



Additional Tips:
  • Swap with Baby Back Pork Ribs.  If you can’t find pork neck bones (usually found at the Asian market), use baby back pork ribs.  Make sure the ribs contain bones as they contain a lot of flavor, depth, and body.
  • Make it spicier! If you love spicy, add minced chili pepper and mustard seeds right before serving. Korean chilies, fresno or jalapeno peppers all work.
  • Make in advance. Gamjatang recipe can be made up to 2-3 days in advance. Simply cover and store in the fridge. Also an easy way to create a less oily broth — simply remove the hardened fat when chilled.


Calories: 585kcalCarbohydrates: 97gProtein: 17gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 3165mgPotassium: 1779mgFiber: 16gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 12954IUVitamin C: 71mgCalcium: 331mgIron: 9mg
Keyword Gamjatang, Pork Bone Soup
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
All Recipes, Dinner with Friends, Kimchi, Korean, Main, Pork, Soup


  1. Hi,
    I was wondering how come my broth turned out thicker compared to yours in the video? I did add more potatoes. Wondering if that could have been the reason?

    • Hi, thank you for your question — yes, adding more potatoes will definitely thicken the broth. Also, the broth can reduce or evaporate if cooked for too long with the lid off. Simply add more water to make it thinner. Be careful not to add too much water or it will dilute the porky flavor. Good luck!

  2. Kristie Vang

    5 stars
    This recipe can be used in a restaurant. It tastes so good. My husband loved it and went for second. It’s high quality taste! Thanks for sharing, Lis!

  3. Where can I find perilla seeds and leaves in Toronto?

  4. Quick question: what if I can’t find pork neck bone? What is the other option for pork?

    • You could also use baby back pork ribs or pork riblets. Pork that’s attached to meat (with a little bit of fat) would work best, as the marrow seeps out of the bones to make a rich stock. I wouldn’t recommend pork chops because the meat is too lean. Cook until soft and falling off the bone! I haven’t done it but it should take about the same time? Start checking around 30-45 minutes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating