South Koreans eat pork more than other meats according to researchers. Samgyeopsal and dwaeji galbi have been the most beloved pork dishes in South Korea, but there are certainly more Korean pork dishes you can enjoy. Let’s go over popular Korean pork dishes so you can choose what you really want to try when you visit a Korean restaurant next time.
Samgyeopsal (삼겹살/Pork Belly)
Samgyeopsal would be one of the most popular Korean pork dishes, if not the most, in South Korea. The name literally means three layers of flesh. This cut of meat comes from the belly of a pig with meat and fat layered alternately. The majority of people started enjoying this meat in the ‘70s and ’80s because it was cheaper than other parts after exporting expensive parts such as sirloins and tenderloins to foreign countries. Although samgyeopsal is not cheap anymore, Koreans still love it and even import it nowadays. It is the most consumed part of pork in Korea.
There are several ways to cook samgyeopsal but grilling is the most popular way to cook it. Koreans love to barbecue meat with wood cheaps or charcoals, however, we also use portable gas stoves for convenience. People usually grill the meat for themselves even in a restaurant using tongs and scissors to flip and cut the meat.
Koreans also love to make a vegetable wrap with meat, called ssam. When you make a ssam, first, you put a piece (or two) of grilled meat on lettuce or/and perilla leaf. Then, you add some sauce such as ssamjang, gochujang, or sesame oil with salt, and any accompaniments like onion, pepper, and garlic on top of the meat. And, you wrap the lettuce and put it in your mouth. Yum.
Blog Post for Samgyeopsal Restaurant in Busan: Samgyeopsal & Dwitgogi at Gogi Jeonggeojang (고기정거장/ Korean BBQ)
Bossam (보쌈/Boiled Pork Wrap)
Bossam is a combination of boiled pork, called ‘sooyouk,’ and kimchi. It is fine to use any parts of pork such as shoulder, leg, and pork belly. Kimjang day is the time when a lot of kimchi is prepared for winter, and traditionally it’s the day to have bossam. On Kimjang day, most of the family members gather together for labor and share meals together after wrapping up the work. Boiled pork is thinly sliced and Kimchi is served on the side. People also like to make ssam with sooyouk. What you choose for your ssam among kimchi, lettuce, or perilla leaf depends on your preference. Nowadays, bossam restaurants usually prepare both cabbage kimchi and radish kimchi and serve both to their customers with various ssam vegetables.
Dwaeji Galbii (돼지갈비/Marinated Grilled Pork Ribs)
Dwaeji galbi was one of the most popular people’s choices for dining out before samgyeopsal became the number one dine-out menu. This Korean pork dish is similar to the western style pork ribs that marinate ribs with sauce and grill them preferably with wood coals. Koreans, though, separate ribs compared to the big chunk of whole ribs in a western way. Then, we slice and add some other parts of pork such as shoulder and leg in order to serve the menu at lower prices. Dwaeji galbi is usually marinated with soy sauce, sweetener, green onions, onions, and rice wine. People use fruits such as Korean pear, apple, kiwi, and pineapple as sweeteners along with sugar to give natural flavor and to tenderize meat.
Gamjatang (감자탕/Pork Backbone Stew with Potato)
In its name, ‘gamja’ is a potato and ‘tang’ means stew in Korean. However, different from its name, the main ingredient in gamjatang is not a potato. Potatoes are simply an addition to the stew. The stars of the menu are pork backbones and neckbones. The restaurants boil the soup for usually 24 hours in order to make meat and bones separate easily. Also, the long boiling time helps the stock develop fully. When they prepare the stock, chefs add doenjang, Korean soybean paste, and other spices to control the taste and smell. In addition, they add more ingredients including Korean chili pepper, perilla leaves and powder, green onion, dried napa cabbage, and potatoes to give the stew more flavor. When people are served, many Koreans also add Korean noodles like ramyeon or dangmyeon to their tastes.
Gamjatang is relatively inexpensive compared to Korean BBQ so it is popular with the majority of people. However, it wouldn’t be a good choice for the first date since it would be very hard to leave a gentle and elegant first impression while holding and biting pork bones.
Dwaeji Gukbap (돼지국밥/Pork Soup with Rice)
Koreans love stock-based soup. Usually, various beef bones are the choice for the stock, but pork bones are a base of stock for Dwaeji Gukbap. This soulful soup is indigenous to Gyeongsangnam-do province, especially in Busan. It is one of the most recommended food to not only international visitors but Korean visitors to Busan because of its authenticity.
When you visit Dwaeji Gukbap restaurant in Busan, they will serve you with jeonguji on the side. Jeonguji is a Busan dialect for buchu (Korean chives). People usually add them to the soup to have a fuller flavor.
Sundae (순대/ Blood Sausage)
Sundae is one of the popular Korean street foods. The making process of sundae is similar to sausage. Traditionally, people stuffed pork intestines with seonji (pig’s blood), ground meat, rice, and vegetables. After the Korean war, inexpensive dangmyeon, which is sweet potato starch noodles, replaced expensive meat and rice. Once people could have it inexpensively, sundae became one of the most popular street foods. Tteokbokki (spicy rice cake) and sundae make a great combo among Korean street food.
Want to know more about Korean food? Read more about different types of Korean noodles here.
Are you a fan of Korean instant noodles, ramyeon (ramen)? Read my post on the top 10 best-selling Korean ramyeon.
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