Something Special: Dweji Gukbap (Korean Pork Bone Rice Soup)

This cloud-colored soup is a regional specialty of Busan and southern South Korea and is a taste of history and survival.

SKFlag SOUTH KOREA

THE RAMBLE: WINNER TEAM KOREA!

LET’S TALK ABOUT this incredible dish. This was developed in Korea during the Korean war when they had little to eat, so they made the best with what they had, and man is this a best. It is simple and savory and fills the belly and soul with it’s collagen-rich broth. It is so simple! Just boil the pork bones! That’s it! These bones really are the gift that keeps on giving, they just give and give flavor. It is a cloud-colored soup due to boiling raw bones. Roasted bones change the broth to a light caramel color and gives a different flavor. This broth is just clean, simple, and savory. It’s seasoned just with tiny, savory, salted shrimp, gochujang, and garnished with other delicious things like sliced pork, chinese chives and green onions. It really would please anyone and you can dress it however you’d like. According to the blogs I read, it is great for winter, and has a balance of Yin and Yang in the ingredients. This is loved by everyone who has it, and even has a song written about it by Korean artists Clover:

This was my husband’s favorite dish while he was in southern South Korea, and his favorite place to have it was Wheat Yang Pork Rice Soup in Miryang. He remembers little charms of the soup there like little hairs left in the pieces of sliced pork, it just added to the rustic appeal of the soup. When we started the search for this recipe, the only recipe info I could find online about it was James Strange’s YouTube Dweji Gukbap recipe, then I watched other Korean videos and blogs about it (Dweji Gukbap 1950How to eat Dweji Gukbap) and then picked my husband’s brain and between all of that, my husband said this recipe was spot on! I was so, so pleased, so here’s another amazing Korean recipe for our Eastern recipes!

LET’S TALK ABOUT this recipe. In my research, I found some variations. In the recipe, I have some suggestions, but you can do/add however much of what you want. So, how will you like this soup? With Korean somyeon/somen-style noodles or traditional rice? With pork belly or pork butt? How many garnishes? You can try any of these, and find out what you like. In James Strange’s recipe, he adds aromatics***, but I didn’t find a difference with or without them, so it’s up to you. He also makes a seasoned gochujang paste with salted shrimp, garlic and pepper, and that is quite delicious. The shrimp really are great, they just taste like salt. However, if your sensitive white-bread palate isn’t quite ready for that yet (come on, we’re friends), just add salt to taste or, I guess, soy sauce to taste, but it will sadly compromise the beautiful color. Also, I have to get my bones from our amazing Mexican market because no one else carries them…? I don’t know either, but their bones always have some meat on them, so really, that provides enough meat for the soup. However, my husband loves the texture of skin-on pork belly, so I get a 1-2-pound slab of that, but I don’t really care for it, too rich for me! So, do what you gotta do, and everything else I was able to find at my small Asian markets (including the pork belly).

THE REVIEW:

I have a really big crush on Robin Ha right now who wrote Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes. Pretty much the coolest book you could ever get or give, so if you need a rad gift for a foodie friend, this is IT!

James Strange needs an applause for his great recipe videos. It really does make cooking something new easier to see how it’s done. He has a ton of Korean recipes and recipes from all over Asia, so go check out his videos!

WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great Korean food: Hyosun of Korean Bapsang, Sue from My Korean Kitchen, Maangchi @Maangchi of Maangchi, Julie of KimchiChick, Judy Joo @JudyJooChef of Cooking Channel’s Korean Food Make Simple and Jinjuu in London and Hong Kong, food truck pioneer Roy Choi @RidingShotgunLA of Kogi and cookbook L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food and LA restaurants ChegoAlibi RoomSunny Spot and A-Frame, Holly @beyondkimchi of Beyond Kimchee, David Chang @DavidChang of PBS’s Mind of a Chef, his NYC restaurant and books Momofuku, and recipe/culture online magazine Lucky Peach @luckypeach, Robin Ha @RobinHaART of her recipe blog/Tumblr Banchan Comic and recipe-comic book Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes, HJ @haejn of the blog Yobodish Korean Recipes, James Strange and his YouTube recipe videos.

THE RECIPE:

Something Special: Dweji Gukbap (Korean Pork Bone Rice Soup)

Something Special: Dweji Gukbap (Korean Pork Bone Rice Soup). Winner for Team Korea!

Dweji Gukbap (Korean Pork Bone Rice Soup)

Adapted from James Strange, about 9-12 hrs to make, serves 6-8, medium-level fuss.

Broth:

5 lbs pork shank and/or knuckle bones (ok if some meat is still on them)

1-2 lbs pork belly or pork butt (optional if bones have meat on them)

***Aromatics (optional):

3-inch piece ginger

1 white onion, cut in half

4 medium cloves garlic

Bowls:

steamed rice, al dente (i.e. about 1 cup+ cooked rice per serving)

AND/OR

somyeon-style noodles, cooked just under al dente (i.e. about 3-4 oz noodles per serving)

Garnishes:

3-4 green onions, sliced into thin rounds (i.e. about 1/2 onion per serving)

3-4 Chinese chives (Buchu), chopped into 1-inch pieces, mixed with gochujang to taste

gochujang, to taste or James Strange’s seasoned gochujang paste (recipe follows)

Salted Shrimps Sauce (Saewoo jeot), to taste

  1. Add pork bones and pork belly/butt to a large (at least 6 qt) stock pot and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a rolling simmer for 25 minutes.  This purges the bones of blood and scum. Then, drain bones into colander and dump ALL the liquid. Wash out the stock pot and rinse the bones and meat so no scum remains.
  2. Add bones then meat back to the now-clean pot and cover with water (about an extra inch) again. Bring to a just boil, then lower to a simmer for 45 mins-1 hr, when the meat is tender but not falling apart. Remove pork belly/butt and bones with meat on them. Add them to a large bowl of ice water, to lower temperature and prevent discoloration. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones, and with the belly/butt, pat the meat dry and store in the fridge until the soup is ready.
  3. Dump out just half the stock in the pot, add the removed bones back to the pot, and again add enough water to cover about an extra inch. Bring to just a boil, then to a low simmer for 8-12 hrs.
  4. Once your stock has simmered at least 8 hrs, remove meat from the fridge and slice into thin slabs. Allow to come up to room temperature. Bring the broth to a boil. The broth should be free of any debris, but you could strain through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth to have a clear broth, then rinse out the pot, add broth back to the pot and then return to a boil. Then, prepare the Bowls and Garnishes. Add desired amount of rice or noodles, then add boiling broth, and season with garnishes to taste.  Eat with your favorite banchan!

James Strange’s Seasoned Gochujang Paste:

2 TBS Gochujang

1/2 TBS salted shrimp sauce

1/2 TBS crushed/grated garlic

1/4 tsp white pepper

2 TBS sliced green onion

  1. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with your soup, meat, etc.
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