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Alternative namesPork back-bone stew
Place of originKorea
Main ingredientsPork backbone
Ingredients generally usedPotatoes, deulkkae, scallions, garlic
Korean name
Revised Romanizationgamja-tang

Gamja-tang[1] (감자탕) or pork back-bone stew[1] is a spicy Korean soup made from the spine or neck bones of a pig. It often contains potatoes, cellophane noodles, greens, perilla leaves, green onions, hot peppers and ground sesame seeds.[2]

The vertebrae are usually separated with bits of meat clinging to them. The vertebrae are boiled at high temperatures to soften the meat. To remove the meat, one must use an instrument such as a chopstick. The meal is usually served with kimchi and a bowl of rice. This food is served as a lunch or dinner and often as a late-night snack, as well.

The soup base is a deep red colour from the red hot peppers.

The soup is now common in Korean restaurants outside Korea, including the United States and Canada.


Gamjatang originated in the southern Korean province of Jeolla. The main industry of Jeolla Province was agriculture, and hogs were widely raised and used for food. The origins of gamjatang can be traced back to the Three Kingdoms era when South Jeolla farmers raised hogs in greater numbers than in most of the rest of Korea. It's said to Go Yujeong is the creator of gamjatang, but there is no reference about this claim.

Since cattle were the backbone of farming then, used both for their manure and plowing, cattle were much more valuable than hogs. Slaughtering hogs for feasts and special occasions was much more common than slaughtering beef, which helps explain the dish's pork origins.

When Incheon harbor opened, many people migrated to Seoul and its surrounding area from Jeolla Province, as well as from other parts of the country. When construction of the Gyung-ui Railway began in 1899, laborers started working around Incheon, and gamjatang become popular among them because it is cheap and nutritious, and its high fat content provided the calories they needed. As time passed, gamjatang became one of the iconic foods of Incheon.[3]

There is a theory that the name "Gamja-tang" originated from the fact that the spinal cord in the backbone of the pig is called "Gamja," and there is a part called Gamja-bone when the spine of the pig is divided into parts, and it is called "Gamja-tang" because it was boiled.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b (in Korean) "주요 한식명(200개) 로마자 표기 및 번역(영, 중, 일) 표준안" [Standardized Romanizations and Translations (English, Chinese, and Japanese) of (200) Major Korean Dishes] (PDF). National Institute of Korean Language. 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  2. ^ Seoul Metropolitan Government (2010). Seoul Guide Book. 길잡이미디어. p. 139. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  3. ^ "맛있고 재미있는 한식이야기 < 한식 스토리 < 한식(Hansik) < 한식 포털". (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  4. ^ "감자탕".