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 want to try when you visit a Korean restaurant next time.
1. Samgyeopsal (삼겹살/Pork Belly)
Samgyeopsal would be one of the most popular Korean pork dishes, if not the most, in South Korea. The name 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 as cheap as before, 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.
Blog Post for Samgyeopsal Restaurant in Busan: Samgyeopsal & Dwitgogi at Gogi Jeonggeojang (고기정거장/ Korean BBQ)
2. Bossam (보쌈/Boiled Pork Wrap)
Bossam is a combination of boiled pork, called ‘sooyouk (수육),’ and kimchi. It is fine to use any parts of pork such as shoulder, leg, and pork belly.
Kimjang Day is the occasion when a substantial amount of kimchi is prepared for the winter, and traditionally, it is also the day to enjoy bossam. On Kimjang Day, most of the family members gather together for labor and share meals 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 typically offer a selection of both cabbage kimchi and radish kimchi, serving them alongside a variety of ssam vegetables for their customers.
3. 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 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.
4. 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 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.
5. 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 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.
6. 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.
7. Tonkatsu (돈가스 / Korean Pork Cutlet)
Tonkatsu (돈가스) is a breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet. Korean Tonkatsu is a popular Korean dish that draws inspiration from the Japanese dish Tonkatsu. In Korea, Tonkatsu has been adapted to suit local tastes and preferences.
The pork can be sourced from various cuts, such as loin or tenderloin. After pounding, breading, and deep-frying, Tonkatsu is served with Tonkatsu sauce, rice, and salad.
Korean-style Tonkatsu has some differences compared to Japanese-style Tonkatsu. In South Korea, Tonkatsu is often served as a whole piece without pre-cutting. And it is common to present it with a knife and fork. Unlike in Japan, the sauce is not kept separately but is instead drizzled directly onto the Tonkatsu. The sauce itself also differs from Worcestershire sauce. The meat is thinner and wider when compared to Japanese Tonkatsu.
In Korea, Tonkatsu is popular thanks to its crispiness on the outside and juiciness on the inside with sweet and savory sauce.
8. Jeyuk Bokkeum (제육볶음 / Korean Spicy Pork Bulgogi)
Jeyuk Bokkeum (제육볶음) is a popular Korean dish that features thinly sliced pork marinated in gochujang sauce and stir-fried with vegetables. The dish is known for its bold and savory flavors, combining the heat of Korean red pepper flakes, the sweetness of sugar or other sweeteners, the umami of soy sauce, and the depth of other seasonings.
Although Dwaeji Bulgogi, Duruchigi, and Jeyuk Bokkeum seem all similar, they are technically all different from each other.
9. Dwaejigogi Kimchi Jjim or Deunggalbi Jjim (돼지고기 김치찜, 등갈비찜 / Korean Kimchi Pork Stew)
Dwaejigogi Kimchi Jjim involves braising or simmering kimchi along with various parts of pork. Among the parts, pork back ribs are one of the most popular parts, so it indeed has its own name for the dish, Deunggalbi Jjim.
Dwaejigogi Kimchi Jjim is known for its bold and robust flavors, combining the tanginess of kimchi with the heat of Korean spices. It’s often enjoyed as a main dish and is typically served with rice. The simmering process allows the ingredients to absorb the flavors of the kimchi and the seasonings, resulting in a delicious and comforting Korean stew.
10. Jokbal (족발 / Korean Pig’s Trotters)
“돼지족발” (Dwaeji Jokbal) is a popular Korean dish that features pig’s trotters, specifically the front hocks, prepared in a flavorful and savory manner. The dish is known for its rich taste and gelatinous texture.
The current style of pig’s trotters originated in Jangchung-dong area of Seoul in 1959. North Korean refugees during the Korean War adapted and developed the trotter dish used to eat in the northern regions. The business, named Pyeongando Jokbal, began selling these trotters, marking the start of its popularity.
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.
If you are more of a beef fan than pork, here is a list of Korean Beef Dishes for you. Read the beefy post.
Related Post: Read more about different types of Korean noodles here.
Related Post: Top 10 Best-Selling Korean Ramyeon.