Korean cuisine is no joke—it is both unique and delicious—and pork is a big ingredient for many meals, as historically it was the main animal bred to be consumed. Koreans do not waste any part of the animal, using head-to-trotter in many different methods to create the most wonderful dishes. Here is a list of 5 of the most marvelous ways pork is prepared in Korea!
- Fantastically Grilled Pork
Grilled food is definitely a favorite in Korea. Whether you grill your meat on a stove-top griddle in a restaurant with your friends, or on a barbecue outside your terrace with your family; grilled pork is definitely a social event accompanied by the most amazing food.
Perhaps your favorite dish is samgyeopsal, grilled pork belly. The way to properly eat it involves grilling the meat (Korean pork for best taste, of course!), then wrapping it in lettuce. Things can be added, such as kimchi, grilled garlic, bean sprouts. The vital ingredient is ssamjang, a dipping sauce made with doenjang, gochujang, sesame oil, garlic and corn syrup
— your Korean BBQ is not complete without this dip! Traditionally, you prepare a “pork and lettuce wrap” for someone you care about, and feed it to them as a token of gratitude and appreciation.
Maekjeok, are delicious pork skewers marinated in ganjang, doenjang and garlic. The recipe dates from the Goguryeo kingdom (37BC-668AD), made by a nomad tribe called the Maek tribe. As this was made before chili peppers arrived in South Korea, it means the dish is not spicy as a lot of Korean food is. The best way to prepare maekjeok is on an open flame, as lightly charring it will bring out the flavor.
- All Riced Up!
Rice and grains have always had a large impact in Korea, and they were used as a way to show status, and as a trading means. Unsurprisingly, a lot of Korean dishes use rice, and they are amazing.
Bulgogi bibimbap is a rice, meat and vegetable dish. Bulgogi, translated into “fire dish,” is pork (chicken or beef, too!) cut into thin slices, marinated and then grilled on a barbecue or a stove-top griddle. It usually comes served in a dolsot, a Korean stone bowl, which is also hot so the dish remains hot whilst eating it.
Korean curry rice is similar to the Japanese one, as it was introduced by them. It is a really easy recipe, as the curry comes in curry blocks or curry powder. All you have to do is cook pork with any vegetables you like or are in season and curry powder/block, and add them with some rice. As it is a hot dish and comfortably spicy, it’s a perfect dish for when the weather starts to cool down in autumn, and nice enough to fill your belly up satisfactorily.
- Flour Power
All countries have recipes that somehow involve flour, as it is an extremely easy grain to grow, and makes for stupendous dishes!
Mandu (dumplings) and all its variants, such as wangmandu (king size dumplings) and jjinppang mandu (steamed buns) are a must-eat in Korea. The pork mixed with vegetables, wrapped in a sheet of flour, and lightly fried (or heavily steamed in the latter’s case) makes a perfect harmony of flavors. It is perfect for a shared appetizer in any meal.
Bindaetteok are mung bean pancakes, which include mung bean sprouts (which are ground and added to the flour), vegetables and pork to create a pancake. Alternatively, bossam are boiled pork wraps, served with kimchi, ssamjang, spicy radish salad and cabbage or lettuce.
- Stupendous Stew
Stew is the comfort food of cold weather. It fills you up both physically and emotionally, the vegetable mix being delicious and comforting.
Kimchi-jjigae is a wonderful stew mixed with pork belly, kimchi, tofu and seasonal vegetables. It is served hot, and it is spicy, being the perfect comfort food when the weather is getting you down. It is one of the most popular jjigae (stews) in Korea, and once you try it you will definitely understand why! A similar dish to this is budae-jjigae, translated to army stew. It is made with ham, sausages, baked beans, kimchi and gochujang. The dish was created from food smuggled from the U.S. Army bases during the Korean War.
Jokbal is a stew made with braised pig trotters. It is often considered drinking food, as it is such a popular dish that is easy to share at a bar with friends. You normally wrap the meat in lettuce, similarly to samgyeopsal.
- Super Soup
If you are ever feeling down in the dumps, or slightly sick, soup is the perfect remedy to fix anything up!
Gamjatang is pork back-bone soup. It includes pork vertebrae and a lot of vegetables and spices, making it delicious, filling and perfectly spicy! Glass noodles can be added, and it is perfect for sharing with your friends or family.
Kimchi-guk is the soup version of kimchi-jjigae. The kimchi provides vitamins and minerals, and the protein comes from the pork and tofu. As it is warm and nutritious it makes it perfect for the cold weather of winter.
As you can see, people of Korea love cooking with pork, and usually there is a very interesting historical explanation as to why the dish has come to be. Have you tried any of these dishes? Which seems most appetizing? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by Lucille Bamber