Korean-Style Pork Belly: A Mouth-Watering Recipe
Get the napkins ready because there’s no way to stop you from drooling through this one!
Korean-style pork belly is a wonderful dish that doesn’t get enough attention. Korean-style pork belly is getting all the spotlight, and you’re going to be so happy you stuck around.
What Is Korean-Style Pork Belly Called?
We know what you’re thinking. Korean-style pork belly is called Korean-style pork belly. However, it is also known as samgyeopsal-gui. The first part means pork belly, and the “gui” refers to the grill. It can also signify meat that is roasted, grilled, or baked.
What Is the History of Korean-Style Pork Belly?
So, where exactly did Korean-style pork belly come from? For starters, pork belly is one of the most popular meats in Korea.
In Korean BBQ restaurants, it is a staple item and fan favorite. Way back in the day, this wasn’t the case as the fatty qualities of the meat was seen as being too rich.
Now, you can expect to see pork belly in most restaurants and utilized in many recipes. People in many cultures, not just Koreans, are realizing that those fatty qualities mean a lot of flavors.
How Can I Make Korean-Style Pork Belly at Home?
This dish is vibrant and just so aesthetically pleasing. You might be intimidated at first glance that it will be complex or too labor-intensive to make at home, but this is not the case.
Korean-style pork belly is actually a simple dish that most novice home chefs can make.
There are even a few different ways of creating the dish. Like with all food, preparation and method are up for interpretation.
Simmer the Pork Belly
Before getting that pork belly into the pan, you must give it a little sprucing up. Season the pork belly properly before cooking, to keep it flavorful until the very end. You can mix sliced pork belly with ginger, black pepper, honey, garlic, Korean chili paste (like gochujang), soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Before cooking, it needs to marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes.
Once the pork belly is ready, place it in a pan and start cooking. They will need to cook in a pan for at least five to six minutes on each side. Your pork belly will be ready to serve once they’re cooked through with a beautiful caramelization.
Make Your Pickled Radishes
Pickled radishes are the perfect accompaniment to your pork belly. They’ll still have a bit of crunch even after pickling and offer nice textural contrast. Other than texture, Korean-style pork belly has a rich and hearty flavor profile.
Pickled radishes are bright and sour and will beautifully cut through those fatty flavors. Kimchi is another pickled veg that works, but it’s usually made of cabbage.
A standard pickling sauce should be made out of water, vinegar, sugar, and any spices you prefer. Boil these ingredients together to ensure that the sugar will dissolve and help the pickling process start faster.
Roast Your Pork
If you prefer a larger piece of pork belly, you can roast the meat low and slow on a proper roasting rack. Score the thick skin on top, season the same as above, and sear. Once there’s a little color on the meat, you want to place it in the oven and let it cook.
When it’s ready, you’ll have soft, tender, hearty meat and melt-in-your-mouth fat. Not to mention, the caramelized and crispy skin on top.
This is a dish with a lot of robust and spicy flavors. Sometimes, you just need something that will soften the rich flavors of the dish. Rice is a great base for fatty and rich pork belly as it will absorb all those spices and flavors perfectly.
Make Your Sauce
Your sauce will work before and after cooking your pork belly. Cooking the pork belly with the sauce will create a thinner sauce in the pan that will transfer from pan to plate well.
To make your sauce, combine the following ingredients:
- Sliced white onions
- Sliced green onions
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Chili flakes
- Garlic cloves
Having a little extra on the side for dipping or throwing extra on top as a finishing sauce is excellent as well.
Choose Your Accompaniments
Those pickled radishes are calling your name. We also recommend a few other ingredients or sides that can help cut through heavy flavors. They’ll work almost like palate cleansers.
When eating rich and fatty foods, it’s ideal to have light and mildly flavored side dishes. This works by keeping your palate from being overwhelmed and put off by the dish. Opt for food items like kimchi or fresh cucumbers that offer a fresh crunch.
How Should I Season Korean-Style Pork Belly?
If you prefer a sauce that you can add after cooking, seasoning pork belly properly beforehand is key. A traditional salt and pepper seasoning just to enhance the meat's natural flavors is the bare minimum. However, your sauce will be full of rich umami flavors, so adding some key spices to your pork belly will help intensify the dish.
Ginger is perfect, as well as honey and garlic. These will offer brightness and a zesty quality to enhance the pork belly before getting added to the sauce. Honey will also help caramelize the skin on the pork belly to get all the flavor possible out of your meat.
Do I Need To Marinate My Pork Belly?
If you decide to roast your pork belly, it would be better to sauce it up after coming out of the oven. Why? The sauce will dry up too much that long in the oven, and you run the risk of burning the ingredients.
In this instance, it would be better to saute the sauce on its own and add the pork belly after coming out of the oven.
If you go the pan route, marinate the pork belly ahead of time. You’ll be able to saute down/soften the onions and caramelize the garlic, and all of those aromatics and char will be absorbed into the pork belly.
How Should Korean-Style Pork Belly Be Served?
How do you like your pork belly served? Traditionally, Korean-style pork belly would be served with rice on the side. It will help soften up the flavors to clean the palate every few bites and provide a little textural contrast.
We also recommend serving those sides we spoke about earlier. Kimchi or pickled radish are the perfect tangy sides for a hearty pork belly treat.
When you have rich and fatty dishes, you need sweet or sour notes on the side or on top to offer a balance of flavors. It also helps to have softeners, like lettuce or rice, when you use sauces with a lot of spice in them. Your mouth can only take so much at a time. Let rice have your back!
The Bottom Line
There you have it—everything you need to know to love and enjoy Korean-style pork belly. We are confident that you’re ready to marinate and cook that pork belly to absolute perfection.
Ready to enjoy this Korean-style pork belly dish? Check out Umamicart for all your favorite ingredients!