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How To Eat Korean BBQ 101

How To Eat Korean BBQ 101

When you think of Korean cuisine, Korean BBQ would have to be one of the first things that pop into your head. From the wide selection of meats and side dishes, to the mixture of aromas that fill up the room, a Korean BBQ dinner is always a fantastic option.

The dining experience is very different to the other types of BBQ's you may be used to. Instead of having your meat and vegetables all cooked and ready to be served to you, you have to do some DIY cooking for yourself. The idea of having to cook your own food may be off putting for some people but there is simply no better way to dine out with your family and friends than at Korean BBQ. Here's what to expect: 


1.       Ordering the Meat

Koreans love their meat. The beauty of Korean BBQ lies in the different types of meats, cuts and marinades available on the menu. Knowing what type of meat to order first makes a difference. It is always a good idea to start with non-marinated cuts before you move to much richer and heavily marinated cuts. Non-marinated cuts that you might want to try out could include sirloin, rib eye steak and any other quality beef they offer at the restaurant you're dining at. If you're visiting Korea, make sure you do not miss out on the Han-u beef which is equivalent to Japanese wagyu beef. Another option is the samgyupsal, which is thin strips of layered pork belly. It is one of the most enjoyed meat dishes in Korean restaurants and at home too.

For marinated cuts, you have two different options. The bulgogi, your sweet soy-sauce based sauce, or a more traditional style of marinated cut. If you prefer beef, you can almost be sure to find kalbi beef short rib or bulgogi beef. Otherwise, there is also the marinated pork and pork ribs options for those pork lovers out there. We also offer the bulgogi marinade sauce here so you can marinate your own at home!


2.     Cooking the Meat

You are responsible for cooking your own meat. Use the tongs that are given to you to do all the turning for the meat and make sure it is cooked evenly. If you see a giant silver retractable pipe dangling from the ceiling, pull it down close to the food. It is a suction fan that will draw all the smoke from the cooking. Sit back and relax while your meat is on the grill. 

3.    Wrap and Sauce

Your servings of meat will always come with two things - ssam, some green lettuce and ssamjang, dipping sauces. You will most likely be given doenjang, a typical soybean paste and gochujang, Korean chili paste. To eat it like a real Korean would eat their meat, place a lettuce in your palm and place a piece of meat on top of it. Depending on your preferences, you can add extra ingredients on the side like minced garlic on top of the meat. Last but not least, smear the sauce on top, wrap the leaf into a small ball and eat it in one bite. This is what Koreans call a ssam-bomb.

4.       Alcohol

It is not the full Korean BBQ experience unless there is some alcohol on the side. This is what makes Korean BBQ so much fun. There are many different Korean alcoholic beverages options to choose from but if you're feeling like you want to try something trendy, make sure you get the somaek. It is a popular cocktail mixed with soju and beer that is popular among the younger population in South Korea today.

One last important tip, wear clothes that you don't mind reeking of smoke or overwhelming with sweet bulgogi because the smell will definitely not go away during the day!


(Image Source: koreaboo.com)

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