How to do Samgyeopsal (Korean Pork Belly) BBQ at home!
Koreans love Korean pork belly BBQ (Samgyeopsal, 삼겹살, also known as three layered pork). We or should I say “I” have to eat it on a regular basis, otherwise I go crazy. 🙂
According to recent research (2016), average Koreans consume 21kg (46 pounds) worth of pork belly meat annually and it accounts for more than 50% of total meat consumption. What’s more, there’s even a Samgyeopsal day (삼겹살데이, March 3rd), which was created to encourage pork belly BBQ consumption in Korea.
The way you cook Korean pork belly is quite straight forward. You simply need to grill the meat on a Korean BBQ grill plate until both sides of the meat are cooked (I prefer golden crispy texture!) and serve them with fresh lettuce and a spicy dipping sauce. As the flavour from the meat is quite savoury (some people may call it ‘bland’) on its own, you rely on the dipping sauce and/or other BBQ companion side dishes to add extra zing flavour to some degree.
Korean style pork belly cut can be purchased from a Korean grocery store or Korean butcher. However, you can also use the pork belly cuts from a regular butcher or grocery store. Just make sure they are skinless and cut thin – 0.5 cm to 1 cm/ 0.2 inches to 0.4 inches – similar to thick bacon rashers.
Below I will share how I typically do Korean pork belly BBQ at home, so you can gather some ideas for your next Korean pork belly BBQ party! Additionally, it might be helpful to read my 30 Essential Korean cooking ingredients article so that you know what to look for.
What I did before I start grilling the pork belly BBQ on a BBQ grill plate
It is important to spread some oil by rubbing one piece of pork on the grill before you add the rest of the meat. That way the meat doesn’t stick to the plate.
What I grilled with other than the actual BBQ meat
You can grill pretty much anything you want but my typical choices are thinly sliced green chilies, sliced garlic, enoki mushrooms and aged Kimchi! I personally think these are must have items to enjoy Korean pork belly BBQ properly. Especially, golden crispy grilled mushrooms taste super ultra great. 🙂 Some Korean BBQ restaurants serve tofu, bean sprouts, onions or sweet potatoes to grill as well.
What I serve the pork belly BBQ with
In particular, Korean green onion salad is a must have pork belly BBQ companion salad. It gives a nice oniony flavour that’s sweet and sour. Most Korean restaurants serve this salad.
In summary, below is some important information I want to highlight to enjoy Korean pork belly BBQ properly. Make sure you follow these! 😉
Enjoying Korean pork belly BBQ (Samgyeopsal) Dos and Don’t
- Have some fresh vegetables with the meat. You can wrap the meat with some lettuce and Perilla leaves (Ggaennip, 깻잎). It is healthier and also helps digestion.
- Bake some garlic and spicy green chilies on the grill and add them when you wrap the meat. It really enhances the taste.
- You can also bake some fermented Kimchi on the grill. Some restaurants serve you 1 year old fermented Kimchi. It is not as horrible as you may think, it totally rocks. Some experts say that it is the best part of having samgyeopsal.
- Cook the meat on high heat for a short time. That way you don’t loose the meat juice (you don’t want it to go dry).
- While the meat is cooking on the grill, don’t turn it over every so often. Apparently the more you do, the more it looses its flavour. Some experts say that only turning the meat once is best.
- Don’t stretch out your hands to pick the meat from the opposite side. People can get annoyed by you. (Every wolf is hungry here!)
- Don’t keep eating. You need to learn the beauty of cooperation by joining in turning the meat when it is cooked. You are a mean spirited person if you keep eating while the others work together to turn the meat.
- Don’t eat the meat when it is burnt. I grew up being taught not to, because it is bad for your health.
Lastly, I have written and collated more detailed information about Korean BBQ in my free downloadable e-Book, How to Enjoy Korean BBQ at Home, Just like a restaurant, so if you are interested in that, enter your email address below to download!
Note: This article was originally posted in January 24th 2007.