7. Pork belly (Samgyeopsal) that Koreans love

Koreans’ Favorite Pork Belly (Samgyeopsal)


In the vibrant tapestry of Korean cuisine, few dishes hold the same level of adoration and cultural significance as pork belly. Renowned for its succulence, rich flavor, and versatility, pork belly has secured its place as a favorite among Koreans, gracing dining tables in various forms and preparations.


1. Grilled Perfection: Korean BBQ

At the forefront of Koreans’ love affair with pork belly is the iconic Korean BBQ experience. Grilling thin slices of marinated pork belly at the table has become a beloved social activity. The sizzling sound, the smoky aroma, and the joy of DIY grilling contribute to the charm of this communal feast. Bulgogi, a marinated and grilled version of pork belly, often takes center stage, showcasing the flavorful fusion of sweet and savory notes.


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2. Samgyeopsal: A Classic Indulgence

Samgyeopsal, which translates to three-layered flesh, is a classic Korean dish featuring thick slices of pork belly. Grilled until golden and crispy on the edges, samgyeopsal offers a delightful contrast of textures. Often enjoyed with dipping sauces and wrapped in lettuce leaves with garlic and ssamjang (a thick, spicy paste), this dish encapsulates the essence of Korean pork belly indulgence.

3. Banchan Harmony: Side Dishes Elevating Pork Belly

The enjoyment of pork belly in Korea extends beyond the main dish to an array of banchan, or side dishes. Kimchi, pickled radishes, and other flavorful accompaniments create a harmonious balance. The variety of banchan ensures a dynamic and well-rounded dining experience, with each side dish complementing the richness of pork belly.

4. Soju Pairing: The Perfect Harmony

No exploration of Koreans’ favorite pork belly would be complete without mentioning soju. This clear distilled spirit, with its clean taste and subtle sweetness, serves as the perfect companion to the rich and fatty flavors of pork belly. The combination of soju and grilled pork belly has become a timeless pairing, cherished in social gatherings and celebrations.


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5. Jokbal: Braised Pork Delight

Jokbal, or braised pig’s trotters, is another manifestation of Koreans’ love for pork belly. While not exclusively belly meat, jokbal showcases the art of slow cooking and marinating. The result is tender, flavorful pork belly and trotters, enjoyed with a savory dipping sauce. Jokbal restaurants, specializing in this delicacy, are popular venues for those seeking a unique pork belly experience.

6. Kimchi Jjigae: The Comforting Stew

Pork belly finds its way into one of Korea’s most beloved comfort foods – kimchi jjigae. This spicy stew, often prepared with kimchi, tofu, and a variety of vegetables, gains an extra layer of richness and depth when pork belly is added. The fatty content of the belly enhances the overall flavor profile, making this stew a cherished dish, especially during colder seasons.


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7. Bossam: The Wrap-and-Eat Sensation

Bossam is a festive dish that involves boiling pork belly until tender, slicing it thinly, and serving it with condiments for wrapping. The pork belly is typically accompanied by oysters, garlic, and ssamjang, providing a medley of flavors and textures in each bite. Bossam is a popular choice during celebrations and gatherings, adding a communal aspect to the enjoyment of pork belly.

8. Kimchi-bokkeumbap: Stir-Fried Delight

Pork belly frequently stars in another Korean favorite – kimchi-bokkeumbap, or kimchi fried rice. The rendered fat from the pork belly imparts a rich and savory note to the dish. Mixed with kimchi, rice, and various vegetables, this stir-fried creation showcases the adaptability of pork belly in Korean cuisine.

9. Gopchang Jeongol: Pork Belly Hot Pot Extravaganza

For those seeking a heartier experience, gopchang jeongol is a hot pot dish that often features pork belly alongside various ingredients like intestines, vegetables, and noodles. The communal aspect of sharing a hot pot adds to the conviviality of the meal, making it a favorite for gatherings with friends and family.

10. Fusion Creations: Pork Belly Innovations

Korea’s culinary landscape continues to evolve, giving rise to innovative pork belly creations. From pork belly tacos to pork belly sliders, chefs and food enthusiasts are exploring new and exciting ways to incorporate this beloved cut into fusion dishes, appealing to a diverse range of tastes.


In the realm of Korean cuisine, pork belly stands as a culinary darling, cherished for its versatility, flavor, and ability to bring people together. Whether sizzling on a BBQ grill, braised in a comforting stew, or featured in innovative fusion creations, Koreans’ love affair with pork belly is a testament to its enduring appeal in the culinary heart of the nation.


Q1: What is Samgyeopsal?
A1: Samgyeopsal is a popular Korean dish featuring thick slices of pork belly. The name, literally translated as “three-layered flesh,” refers to the layers of meat, fat, and skin present in each slice.

Q2: How is Samgyeopsal typically served?
A2: Samgyeopsal is typically served raw and grilled at the table. Diners grill the slices themselves, creating a personalized and interactive dining experience.

Q3: What is the preferred method of cooking Samgyeopsal?
A3: Grilling is the preferred method of cooking Samgyeopsal. The slices are often cooked until crispy on the edges while maintaining a juicy and tender center.

Q4: What condiments are commonly served with Samgyeopsal?
A4: Samgyeopsal is commonly served with various condiments, including ssamjang (a thick, spicy paste), garlic cloves, green peppers, and lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Q5: Is there a recommended dipping sauce for Samgyeopsal?
A5: Ssamjang, a flavorful combination of fermented soybean paste and Korean red pepper paste, is a popular dipping sauce for Samgyeopsal. It adds depth and spice to each bite.

Q6: Are there specific side dishes that pair well with Samgyeopsal?
A6: Samgyeopsal pairs well with a variety of banchan (side dishes), such as kimchi, pickled radishes, and fresh vegetables. These side dishes provide a balance of flavors and textures.

Q7: Can Samgyeopsal be enjoyed in a non-grilled form?
A7: While grilling is the traditional method, some dishes incorporate Samgyeopsal in other forms, such as soups, stews, or stir-fried dishes.

Q8: What beverages are commonly paired with Samgyeopsal?
A8: Soju, a clear distilled spirit, is a popular choice to accompany Samgyeopsal. Its clean taste and subtle sweetness complement the rich and fatty flavors of the pork belly.

Q9: How is Samgyeopsal enjoyed in social settings?
A9: Samgyeopsal is often enjoyed in social settings, such as family gatherings

Q10: Are there variations of Samgyeopsal based on marinades or seasoning?
A10: Yes, there are variations of Samgyeopsal based on marinades or seasoning. Bulgogi-style marinades, with a blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and sugar, are a popular choice for adding extra flavor.

Today’s Quiz

Question: What does the term “Samgyeopsal” literally mean?
A: The term “Samgyeopsal” literally means “three-layered flesh,” referring to the layers of meat, fat, and skin in each slice of pork belly.


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