Types of BBQ: Korean BBQ

One of the most popular types of barbecues in the world is the Korean one: here are the basics to bring it back to your home too.

It won’t be long ago that you and your friends have cooked up a nice barbecue . Meat, vegetables, even fruit, a few beers and lots of laughs. In short, a pleasant – and repeatable – collective experience.the peculiarity of the Korean bbq are the marinades and fermentationsWell, now take this memory and carry it around a table. Here it is, perhaps simplifying a little, the Korean barbecue . More correctly, it is a country cuisine method of grilling meat, usually beef, pork or chicken, directly on gas or charcoal grills built into the dining table. More philosophically, a school of thought. This custom seems to date back to the Second World War, when Korea, divided between the Soviet Union and the United States, saw the traditions and methods of barbecue reach those latitudes. He then integrated them into the local dishes and cooking methods. And at the table. Until he became a legend. In addition to the preparation of the cuts to be cooked, the peculiarity of the Korean bbq lies in the marinades, in infusions and fermentations , which give foods the particular flavors that distinguish them. But what do we find on the table?


Korean barbecue begins and revolves around meat. Beef and pork are the most used animals and, depending on the cut (therefore the softness), the meat can be simply seasoned and grilled, or marinated before cooking. Perhaps the most famous preparations of beef are thinly sliced galbi (ribs) and bulgogi (usually made with tenderloin, ribeye or brisket) are the best known examples of the less soft parts and both use a sauce-based marinade. of soy, sesame oil, nashi pear, brown sugar and mirin .

For pork , however, the classic preparation is that of bulgogi dwaeji , which resembles the bulgogi version of beef, but is marinated in a spicy gochujang sauce , along with lots of fresh garlic and ginger. While any cut of pork can be used for this dish, the cuts that work best are pork shoulder or sirloin with some fat. And, sometimes, bacon can also be added.

Chicken , on the other hand , is the basis of buldak , which became famous in the south of the country in 2004, because due to the economic recession the local population was looking for spicy food to relieve stress. It starts with pieces of chicken (mostly thighs), grilled after marinating in a sweet and sour sauce consisting of chilli paste and powder, soy sauce, starch syrup, garlic and ginger. The sugars in the marinade caramelize and char as the chicken cooks. Once ready it is usually served with slices of rice cake and melted cheese. Or with steamed eggs or charred rice, to counteract the spiciness.


It is the universal sauce of Korean barbecue , which combines soy paste ( doenjang ), chili paste ( gochujang ), minced garlic, minced onion, green onion and sesame oil. It is used both to soak food and as a condiment for ssam : it is in fact spread on lettuce, perilla or steamed cabbage leaves, which are then wrapped around pieces of meat, to create morsels of grilled meat.


In Korean it means “to eat something wrapped in a leaf “. This is therefore the case with meat, but also with rice, which are wrapped in lettuce or perilla leaves . The latter, often passed off as sesame leaves , come from the same family as Japanese shiso and have a flavor reminiscent of anise, ideal for counteracting the flavor of pork or beef. Along with the ssamjang sauce and meat, there are other toppings that can refine the little rolls before enjoying them. On the table it is in fact easy to find small containers, with fresh green Korean chillies in thin slices, garlic cloves and shallotsor toasted sesame seeds.


It is the term that indicates the small side dishes that cleanse the mouth of all the meat consumed up to that moment. It is not difficult to find pickled and fermented vegetables, including kimchi in all forms; marinated vegetables, such as watercress or spinach; dried anchovies in a pan; rolled omelettes, similar to Japanese tamagoyaki .


Rice is usually a key component of any Korean meal. In the case of the barbecue, however, its role is rather secondary, of exclusive support to the meat and the condiments that accompany it.


It is one of the most popular stews in the country, eaten at any time of day, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And it also appears on the table during the barbecue, between one grilled meat and another. It is made with doenjang , fermented soybean paste , and in its most common version with pork fat. Inside, the most disparate ingredients: from tofu with vegetables (Korean white radish, courgettes, onion), mushrooms, potatoes, fresh chilli.


For Korean culture, drinking is also a collective activity, which includes a very strict etiquette . Drinks must be poured to others, but not to oneself, and in order of seniority. You have to receive the drinks poured with two hands. And you have to drink group shots. Which makes the barbecue experience perhaps even more memorable. Among the drinks provided there are certainly beers , but it is also easy to find soju , a distillate obtained from rice, barley or wheat (but modern producers also use tapioca and batata) or makgeolli , a milky and slightly sparkling wine made with rice. , water and a fermentation starter called nuruk .

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