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Korean gam ja tang (split from Ontario board)

Do you know of a website that has some form of translation for these Korean names. It's just when I see a name like nam jing lap bun I haven't the faintest idea what it is. It could even be the name of the restaurant.

This started with Soon Tofu. I know what it is, but I couldn't get what Soon meant, or even if it was translatable. In my head I just think 'stew'.

And while we are at it, are there any reasonable Korean places East of the Don Valley?

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  1. Nam Jing Lap Bun? Funny, that sounds more Chinese than Korean to me... I don't know about websites but, Soon Dubu (Tofu) literally means uncurdled bean curd. If you add the word jjiggae after Soon Dubu, ya guessed it... uncurdled bean curd stew!

    1. Satoorisme, by all means post your recipe for GJT, as I am sure (judging from the responses) it would be appreciated by all the fans of the stuff....to my knowledge, pork bone soup/GJT is made with neck bones of the pig and that is what i used in my attempt at home. I don't have enough knowledge of Korean food history to dis/agree with you on the position of GJT historically. in more recent history ie. 20th century, it was grunge food during wartimes - not that that alone should be grounds for dissing it in any way but i have known many who grew up in that generation who also avoid things like barley rice, brown rice and gukbap since these were the things they ate (the 'poor man's food', as white rice was too expensive and boiling the rice in the soup and turning it into gukbap was one way to stretch a meal to feed a family)...just saying that there are certain emotional/psychological/cultural associations that are hard to let go of for a certain generation. that said, to each her/his own. and such also is the great variation in korean cuisine, by region and i guess, by generation: I don't think I'll ever be a fan of gamjatang, or at least the pork bone version as we know it. nor will i ever be a fan of Soondae (but that's for another day/thread)....for such a tiny country, i must say that koreans are passionate about food and unshakeable in their belief in the superiority of their own regional cuisine (i speak with no humility here whatsoever): never have i seen a korean momma from the south (say, jeollado region) concede the greatness of kimchi made in the seoul or northern-style...

      paulustrious - fyi, you can try www.maangchi.com for definitions (and recipes) of some of the words used here.....btw, "gamjatang" is literally translated as "potato stew", go figure!

      8 Replies
      1. re: berbere

        Koreans are known for coming up with new names for their traditional dishes that have existed for hundreds of years before and GJT is no exception to this trend. In fact, GJT was almost an exclusive regional dish in the Jeollado area known as a broth stew made with pork bones up until workers all over Korea moved to Incheon with their families for the construction of Gyoung In Sun (the Seoul-Incheon Line). Naturally, these people brought their regional culinary specialties with them to Incheon and food like Ppyeodaggi Haejanggook(Bone Broth Stew with Beef Bones) and GJT became more or less of staple meals to feed them, which eventually led the dish to become Incheon’s “stolen” specialty. Ask anybody who lives in Incheon for long enough and they will tell you that there are probably more GJT joints in their city than anywhere else in Korea. And, yes, both pork backbones and neck bones have always been used interchangeably when making GJT.

        As for the history, Jeollado has a deep-rooted reputation in Korea for their pig rearing __as well as being GJT’s originating region, naturally__ and if you search in any of Korean internet engines such as empas, daum, naver etc., you will have no trouble finding articles that support this fact. If you are fluent in Korean, I highly suggest a further reading of 'The 100 Korean Foods that Koreans Ought to Know' (우리가 정말 알아야 할 우리 음식 백가지) by Han Bok Jin (한복진). I have actually never heard of GJT being eaten during wartimes, but yes, certainly of stuff like all kinds of bone broths, gookbap, barley and brown rice etc... And I, too, also know of several relatives and their acquaintances who share the same sort of disdain for these things because of their experience growing up during hard times. However, I know just as many people from the same generation who crave for the very same things! I noticed that my first cousin twice removed, who served in the Korean War, always makes a point of eating barley rice and virtually almost all of my other relatives from his generation including my grandparents mix their rice with broth, even when they are served in separate bowls, from time to time. Another thing is that they always drink water from the same bowls as they ate and sometimes I even do it for fun... I guess I picked it up by watching them doing it so many times.

        Koreans are not the only ones known to have an intense pride for their regional roots and all other sorts of specialties despite it being a small country. But, I can attest that I am a total tojongin who happens to love all Korean food and yes, including all the regional stuff that I know of;)

        By the way, contrary to another popular belief, the word ‘Gamja’ which means potato does not refer to the actual potato. It is said the name refers to the meaty part right between pork backbones because of its colour has a striking similarity to broiled potatoes.

        1. re: satoorisme

          the last part about the gamja is something i never knew!
          thanks satoorisme for some insight into our culture :D

          1. re: satoorisme

            indeed, another example of a dish that has evolved over the years is the ddok bok-ki (sp?), streetfood now but at one time royal cuisine -- did you see Dae Jang Geum? the ultimate korean foodie film, imho...

            the 100 foods site looks neat, I'll have to search for it on the korean sites cuz i can't find it on the english sites....

            i didnt know that about the meaning of 'gamja' either...

            1. re: berbere

              No, I haven't seen it, but I do remember hearing about it from family friends who were total maniacs for the soap version of it! Then again, I can't recall the last time I actually watched a Korean movie... I just can't stand them! and that goes the same with their soaps:P

              Tteokbokki as we know today is actually the accidental creation of one Korean woman named Ma Bok Rim in the 1950's. But yeah, I've heard about that special tteokbokki that the Chosun kings ate at one time. It's nothing close to what we know today as tteokbokki though... first of all, it's cooked in soysauce marinade, instead of red pepper paste, with lots of beef and the way rice cakes were cut at the time were much thicker and larger than today. It would be much more apt to call the dish a tteokjjim than tteokbokki due to its texture. Nowadays, we have the advantage of machinery that do all the labour-intensive work for us when making tteok, but back then, it had to be done by hand completely, especially gaeraetteok (rice cake that was used to make the dish back then) because of its circle shape. Tteok was also considered relatively rare and prized back and keep in mind of the addition of beef on top of that... So, it's no wonder only the kings and the rich aristocratic folks got to eat it! And, the 100 Foods is a book by the way:P

          2. re: berbere

            Thanks for that link - and I agree about kimchi. I never met a Korean mother who didn't think her own was the best!

            1. re: Paulustrious

              Don't they all, I mean, really, dont they all? *sighs*

              1. re: Paulustrious

                Yeah but my mom's kimchi really is the best!!! (:

              2. re: berbere

                Thanks for that link. I've 'wasted' a chunk of time now at that site.

              3. [The post below from satoorisme was meant to be the first post on this split. Sorry for the confusion!]

                Originally posted by satoorisme:

                Grunge? Poorman's food!? I am really going to have disagree with you on that one, Berbere. Contrary to your claim, which seems to be a popular belief among some people as well, Gamjatang's history goes all the way back to the Korean Three Kingdom period. People back in those days would kill pigs instead of cows (which were considered very important and valuable back then for planting rice crops) for food and would use pork bones to make what we know today as Gamjatang. Moreover, there have been several records from the era that says the people back then fed pork stock made from the bones as a remedy to both the elderly and sickly suffering from boneache.

                I can certainly appreciate your unsuccessful attempt at making GJT at home, but no biggie, you're not alone on this! Naturally, most homecooks would think they should use pork backbones but, the backbones are surpringly tricky to work with, especially if one's a novice cook or not apt at trimming the bones. Pork ribs make great substitute and are a lot easier to handle for those of us at home! Plus potatoes eaten with meat or fish make great Vitamin B and C sources and a helluva energy booster!

                As for fried rice, you may not find it appealing but, once you try it, I am confident that you will not go back! Lots of both restos and GJT joints all over Korea do this and it's actually a bit of tradition originating from Jeolla... waste not, want not.

                Berbere, I'll gladly share the recipe if you'd like because quite a few of my friends shared your position in the past but are now converts happily making GJT at home (when in the mood, that is, ha!). The trick is all in the pork bits;)