What Do You Really Know About Korean BBQ?
Fire up the grill! Korea has no shortage of amazing food but Korean BBQ is one of the best culinary experiences you can have. From traditional charcoal grilling to marinated short ribs and bulgogi, KBBQ is a delicious and fun experience that allows you to grill and eat right at your table. Being able to indulge in the many forms of traditional Korean BBQ is just one of the many perks of teaching English in South Korea. Let me take you on a gourmet expedition into Korean BBQ!
Is Korean BBQ Always Beef?
Traditionally, KBBQ restaurants serve different cuts of beef. Pork and chicken are other common KBBQ meats but if you are adventurous, why not try:
- Gopchang (beef or pork intestines)
- Gyutan (beef tongue)
- Makchang (beef stomach)
Gopchang is my personal favorite! The rich and flavorful taste of gopchang pairs perfectly with the smoky char from the grill, creating a unique dining experience.
Dry-aged BBQ is a sophisticated twist to traditional grilling. Cuts of beef like ribeye and sirloin undergo a dry-aging process that can take several weeks or even months before being served. This aging process allows for more complex, umami flavors to develop and gives the beef an intense, flavor-packed taste. The richness and tenderness of aged meat is the best way to elevate your KBBQ experience.
Unlike dry-aged BBQ, wet-aged BBQ relies on soaking the meat in a mouth-watering marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, and various spices before grilling. Wet-aged BBQ is especially tender and is usually cooked on a flat, table-top grill. I recommend that you enjoy it with Makgeoli, as the sweet, tangy flavor is the perfect pairing! One of my favorite places to eat wet-aged KBBQ is Yeonnamseo Sikdang.
Hanwoo (Korean Beef)
Hanwoo, or Korean beef, is a breed of cattle native to South Korea and renowned for its deep marbling and premium quality. Hanwoo is often compared to other high-end varieties of beef like Wagyu and Kobe. Hanwoo barbeque is great for special occasions but can be enjoyed anytime. Typically, Hanwoo is cooked over a charcoal flame for flavor. I recommend pairing with a fruity red wine, such as a Malbec, to compliment the robust flavors. You can even choose the beef at certain restaurants, which they then grill tableside. Or, you can take out Hanwoo to cook at home!
If red meat isn’t your thing, then why not indulge in seafood BBQ? Switch gears and enjoy succulent oysters, shrimp, calamari, and all sorts of fish. Seafood adds a fresh, coastal twist to the traditional KBBQ experience and can be a more affordable option. My favorite place to enjoy all the different seafood varieties is in Busan.
Now you’re ready to enjoy all that KBBQ has to offer when you teach English in Korea! Happy grilling!
Michelle Duquette is from Toronto, Canada and moved to South Korea in 2015. She has a Bachelors in English literature and a Masters in ESL Education. Michelle has taught at Creverse campuses in Gangneung, Songpa, and Mokdong and currently works as a CDI and April Trainer. Michelle never set out to be a teacher but fell in love with Korean culture and the excitement of being in the classroom. Michelle lives in Seoul with her partner and two cats, Cherry and Frost.