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Samgyopsal 삼겹살: The Delicious Lovechild of Bacon and a Pork Chop

What is Samgyopsal (삼겹살)?

If any meal sums up the Korean concept of eating together, it is Samgyopsal. Samgyopsal is thin strips of pork belly, cooked up and served with a wide array of veggies. Most of the time the meal is eaten while the meat is still cooking, Picture it, your family, friends and you are sitting around the table. You are all laughing, talking, drinking (maybe Somaek 쏘맥) and eating. The air is filled with the smells and sounds of sizzling meat. This is what a true Korean meal is all about.

What is the Right Way to Eat Samgyopsal?

Lets just say, there are no wrong ways to eat it. Some may disagree with this but if you watch people at a Restaurant (식당), you will see almost everyone has a different way. Most eat it on lettuce or a perilla leaf. From this base you stack a radish slice, green onion mixture, meat, and anything else you want from the table. When you have your chosen combination, you wrap the leaf around it and eat it in one shot. If you try to bite it, your fillings will start to escape and you will probably end up with a serious mess in your hand. That being said, you should pace yourself, not everything has to go into each wrap. The beauty of Samgyopsal is that each bite can be different, experiment with it and have fun!

Common Samgyopsal setting

Common Samgyopsal setting

What is a Samgyopsal Meal Like?

Easily one of the greatest example of communal dining you will find anywhere. With the meat in the middle of the table and all the veggies and side dishes around it, there is no rule against reaching across the table or engaging in a chopstick war for the last piece of roasted garlic. The plates are not meant for serving, they are mostly so you don’t make a mess. There is no volume you have to stay below, this is life, this is family and friends. This is dinner! Eat well!

One Shot!

One Shot!

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Method:

Ingredients:

3 Pounds pork belly (Pre-sliced is the easiest way)

Green Onion Salad:

15 Green onions sliced thinly into about 3 inch strips

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp. Sesame seeds

1 Tbsp. Sesame oil

2 Tbsp. Gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes)

1 Tbsp. Doenjang (fermented bean paste)

Veggies:

Bundle of lettuce, separated, washed and drained (we recommend Romaine for this for flavor and ease of preparation) Try adding some Perilla leaves to the mix

2-3 medium carrots cut into small bite sized sticks or shredded.

1 cucumber cut into small bite sized sticks

4-5 green chili peppers sliced thin

a dozen garlic cloves sliced

1 large onion quartered

Directions:

With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut pork into small bite sized pieces and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the green onion salad. While the salad chills, start heating the pan or grill and drizzle with a little oil. When ready lay meat in the pan or on the grill and cook about 2-3 min each side being careful not to burn the meat. When meat is on its second side, toss in some of the garlic and onion and sear. Its our recommendation that, if possible, cook the meat as everyone is eating.

When meat is ready, set a slice of radish, meat, green onion salad, and any other veggies you prefer on a leaf. Roll the leaf around the meat and veggies and form a small roll. Try to eat the whole thing in one bite or it will fall apart and get messy! Try experimenting with different combinations with each leaf. No reason that each bite has to be the same as the one before. Have fun with it and eat well!

Robert Marsh

Crazy American soldier who fell in love with the beautiful country, culture, and people of Korea. I started to learn more of the language and culture before I discovered kpop and kdrama

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