Please forgive my raspy voice in the video! I was under the weather!
You might be wondering why, out of all of the parts of a pig you can eat, did I choose neck bones? That part of a pig is hard to find unless you go to a gourmet supermarket, even though it's one of the cheaper parts of a pig you can buy(I bought my pound of pork neck bones for a little over $2.00). That wasn't the part of the pig I was originally going to use though.
When I went to the gourmet supermarket, I was in pursuit of pork belly, but it turns out pork belly is one of those types of meats where it's best served for occasions(like big family gatherings) where at least 6 people will eat it since the smallest pork belly available was 3 pounds(butchers can't cut the pork belly for you any smaller, apparently) and there are only 2 people in my household left.
So I bought pork neck bones instead, not knowing what I was going to do with them. I did want to make a kimchi stew though and I learned in my Intro to Korean Culture class in college that the Koreans eat cold food when it's cold outside(i.e. winter) and hot food when it's hot outside(i.e. summer), unlike Western civilization, where the only time frozen desserts are trending is between the months of May-August, barring any wacky egg waffle cones in NYC that all of a sudden go viral on Instagram.
My purchase of the kimchi has its own story though. I bought this particular jar of kimchi at a Korean supermarket(H Mart) that isn't even in the county I live in. It turns out you can buy pounds of kimchi there! I've never seen so much kimchi in my life at one time! The smallest amount that kimchi came in was 13 ounces, so I bought that. Even that amount of kimchi made the liquid in the stew not palatable, though the meat fills you up anyway.
I didn't find perilla leaves at H Mart though, although I noticed lime leaves and sesame leaves, but those two types of leaves are similar to mint, which I loathe(unless it's in Indian food).
I also used black garlic in this stew, which is basically caramelized garlic. My dad treated it like regular garlic and insisted I not use the entire bulb of garlic in the stew, for fear of the black garlic overpowering the flavor of the stew. But that didn't happen, for black garlic doesn't taste like regular garlic- it's a little sweet and a little savory. Plus, you can eat entire bulbs of it as an energizing snack(according to the bag the black garlic came in)!
Yet somehow on my journey to H Mart, I forgot one ingredient in the stew: soybean paste. I probably could've found it had I looked hard enough. I didn't have miso paste either, let alone ever tried miso. To sum it up, I had no pastes whatsoever in my pantry, so i saw a suggestion online that mixed mayonnaise and tomato paste together. Guess what? I didn't have tomato paste, but I did have mashed purple yam that I bought at a small local Asian grocery(that is from the Philippines actually), so mashed purple yam it was.
When I read the directions for the recipe I was (sort of) following, http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/gamjatang, I took a double take when it said to pretty much boil the stew for 2 hours. I've never boiled anything for that long, though I have simmered dishes for a lot longer than 2 hours. On several occasions, the liquid evaporated so much that I ended up needing to add an additional 4 cups of water to the pot so that my end result would actually be a stew and not just a bunch of clumped up kimchi and pork neck bones.
You may have noticed in the video I used cinnamon in lieu of ginger. That's because I hate ginger. Also, you might be wondering why I actually used a red pepper paste when I have mentioned in the past that I despise red bell peppers. The reason is that the only form I will eat red peppers is in sriracha or gochujang(brown rice red pepper paste), maybe because of the fact I like most Asian ingredients(except for wasabi and ginger).
The best part about the stew was the pork itself. The meat practically fell off the bone during all that boiling, and I gotta admit that that pork was the best pork I've ever tasted. It reminded me of a German pork cutlet for some reason(don't ask me why). My dad loved the pork but he hated everything else about the stew, saying it was too spicy for his liking.
Makes 5 bowls of stew
You will need:
For the cooking equipment:
A large bowl
A large saucepot
For the stew:
1 pound of pork neck bones, soaked in cold water for 2 hours at room temperature(don't be alarmed by the red blood that ends up coloring the water)
Enough water to fill a large saucepan 3/4 of a way to the top + 4 additional cups of water to add during the boiling process
Cinnamon or ginger
1-2 cloves of black garlic(not bulbs) or garlic
2 tbsp. of soybean paste or 2 tbsp. of mayonnaise and 2 tbsp. of mashed purple yam(or tomato paste), or 2 tbsp. of miso paste
1 tbsp. of gochujang(Korean brown rice red pepper paste)
1/2 an onion, diced
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
15 ounces of drained sweet baby corn
13 ounces of kimchi
Basil or perilla leaves
Garlic bread or wonton strips to have with the stew(optional)
Glass of milk to quell the spiciness(highly recommended)
1. Boil enough water to fill a saucepot 3/4 of the way to the top. Once the water is boiling, add your cinnamon or ginger and put the pork neck bones into the water. Let the meat cook in the saucepot for 5-7 minutes.
2. Drain the liquid out through a colander. You won't be needing that liquid.
3. Remove the excess fat from the pork neck bones. The fat is the pieces of the meat hanging off of the bone. There may not be that much excess fat to remove.
4. Break the bulb(s) of black garlic into cloves and remove the black stuff(the black garlic) from the skin of the bulbs. You won't be needing the skin in the stew.
5. Mix the mayonnaise and mashed purple yam(or tomato paste) together in a small bowl(if you don't have soybean paste or miso paste).
6. Clean your saucepot and fill it up with enough water 3/4 of a way to the top Boil that water.
7. Once the water is boiling, put the pork neck bones, black garlic, purple yam (or tomato paste)mixture(or soybean paste or miso paste), gochujang, 1/2 a diced onion, pinch of cinnamon, pinch of salt, and pinch of black pepper into the saucepot. Mix all the ingredients together so that the paste and garlic, along with the rest of the ingredients, are distributed evenly among the stew.
8. Lower the flame to a medium high heat and let the stew boil for 90 minutes. If you see the liquid going down a lot, add 1 cup of water at a time to fill it back up. 9. After the 90 minutes, add the baby corn, basil(or perilla leaves), and kimchi to the stew. Make sure the kimchi doesn't clump up in the saucepot.
10. Cook the stew on medium high heat for an additional 30 minutes. Again, if you see the liquid going down a lot, you can always add more.
11. Serve with garlic bread or wonton strips, and a glass of milk(highly recommended). Bon appetit!