Samgyeopsal is so popular, it could be considered the national food of Korea. Cut from the soft underbelly of a pig, it is universally liked by all who try it. Often referred to as Korean barbecue, you can find samgyeopsal restaurants throughout the world. The image of sizzling slices of meat and kimchi cooked over a large grill pan is quintessentially Korean. To get the full experience, be sure to try it with ssam (vegetable wraps).
The first step is to order the amount of samgyeopsal you’d like to eat. We recommend starting out by ordering less than you think you can eat, as the meal will come with plenty of side dishes. Most restaurants offer free refills of kimchi and other side dishes, so there is no need to order too much meat.
When your meat arrives, place a slice or two on the grill; you don’t need to grill it all at once. If you ordered two servings, start out by grilling just enough for one person. When one side is done, flip the meat over to grill the other side. At this point, place some kimchi slices on the grill. You want just enough kimchi to pair with each bite of samgyeopsal.
Temperature control is very important when grilling samgyeopsal. You want your meat to have a nice crunch but the kimchi can easily burn if the heat is too high. You should flip the kimchi often so it doesn’t burn. You’ll know it is ready to eat when the white of the cabbage turns a nice shade of yellow. While kimchi usually has a spiciness to it, grilled kimchi loses that spice due to the oil coming off the meat, making it sweet.
When the meat and kimchi are grilled to satisfaction, take a piece of each off the grill and let them cool down a bit before feasting on the harmonious blend of flavors they create. If you find it too hot or salty, you can also eat it in a vegetable wrap of lettuce or perilla leaves.
Of course, a meal of samgyeopsal wouldn’t be complete without bokkeumbap (fried rice). Rice fried on a grill pan that was used to cook samgyeopsal is unlike anything you’ve ever had before. The natural oil from the pork adds just the right amount of flavor to the rice mixed with diced kimchi and other vegetables.
- Ordering advice
- The average price of samgyeopsal is around 10,000 won per serving. Generally, people order one serving per person, and then order more as they need it. Many places also allow for single servings, so you can still enjoy samgyeopsal if you’re alone.
- Samgyeopsal restaurants also include things like kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) and doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew). Some restaurants even provide the stew for free when ordering a side of rice.