Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Korean BBQ, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about this mouthwatering cuisine.
Korean BBQ has exploded in popularity in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why: from succulent grilled meats to tangy pickled vegetables and spicy dipping sauces, every bite is a flavor explosion.
This guide is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy Korean BBQ at home, at a restaurant, or even on a visit to Korea.
You’ll learn about the different types of Korean BBQ, the equipment and tools you need, how to make homemade marinades, the best side dishes and banchan, and grilling techniques and tips to make your meat perfectly cooked and delicious.
We’ve also included recipes for some of the most popular Korean BBQ dishes, like bulgogi, galbi, samgyeopsal, and dak galbi, so you can try making them at home.
And if you’re traveling to Korea or looking for Korean BBQ restaurants near you, we’ve got you covered with our list of top restaurants in Korea and around the world.
Whether you’re a seasoned Korean BBQ enthusiast or new to this amazing cuisine, this guide has something for everyone. So get ready to fire up the grill and indulge in the amazing flavors of Korean BBQ!
What is Korean BBQ?
Korean BBQ, also known as “gogigui” in Korean, is a traditional way of grilling meat that originated in Korea.
It involves marinating meat in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, and other seasonings, and then grilling it over a tabletop grill or stove.
Korean BBQ is often served with various side dishes, such as kimchi and pickled vegetables, as well as steamed rice.
The roots of Korean BBQ can be traced back to ancient Korean culture, where communal cooking and sharing of food were an important part of daily life.
Today, Korean BBQ is enjoyed both in Korea and around the world as a popular and delicious dining experience.
Why Korean BBQ is popular worldwide
Korean BBQ is popular worldwide for several reasons. Particularly because the unique flavor profiles of Korean cuisine, which include a balance of sweet, sour, spicy, and savory, make Korean BBQ a standout culinary experience.
Also, Korean BBQ is a social experience that is traditionally shared with family and friends, making it a great way to connect with others. Thirdly, the interactive nature of grilling meat at the table and choosing from a variety of banchan (side dishes) adds to the excitement of the dining experience.
Countries that have embraced Korean BBQ include the United States, Canada, Japan, China, and Australia.
In the United States, Korean BBQ has gained popularity in major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, with a growing number of Korean BBQ restaurants and chains.
In Japan, Korean BBQ is often served in yakiniku restaurants alongside Japanese grilled meats.
In China, Korean BBQ is enjoyed as a fusion cuisine with Chinese flavors and cooking techniques.
In Australia, Korean BBQ has become a popular food trend, with many restaurants specializing in Korean-style BBQ and fusion dishes.
Types of Korean BBQ
Beef (bulgogi, galbi)
Beef bulgogi and galbi are two popular dishes in Korean cuisine. Bulgogi is thinly sliced beef that has been marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and other seasonings.
The marinated beef is then grilled or pan-fried, resulting in tender, flavorful meat that is slightly caramelized on the outside. Bulgogi can be served with rice, lettuce wraps, or as a filling for Korean-style tacos.
Galbi, on the other hand, is made with beef short ribs that have been cut crosswise and marinated in a similar mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and other seasonings.
The marinade for galbi often includes Asian pear, which helps to tenderize the meat and adds a sweet flavor. Galbi is typically grilled over charcoal or a gas grill, and can be served with rice, kimchi, and other Korean side dishes.
Both bulgogi and galbi are beloved for their tender, flavorful beef and their savory, slightly sweet marinades.
These dishes are often enjoyed in Korean barbecue restaurants, where diners can cook the meat themselves at their table on a small grill.
However, with the right ingredients and equipment, they can also be made at home for a delicious and satisfying meal.
Pork (samgyeopsal, dwaeji galbi)
Samgyeopsal and dwaeji galbi are popular cuts of meat used in Korean barbecue. Samgyeopsal is a type of pork belly, which is a fatty and flavorful meat that is usually grilled or pan-fried.
It is typically sliced into thin pieces and often served with garlic, lettuce, and other vegetables for wrapping. Samgyeopsal is a popular Korean BBQ option because it is easy to prepare and has a delicious flavor that is loved by many.
Dwaeji galbi, on the other hand, is a type of pork rib that is often marinated and grilled. It is typically cut across the bone, resulting in small, succulent pieces of meat that are perfect for grilling.
Dwaeji galbi is also popular in Korean BBQ because it is tender and flavorful, making it a great choice for both beginners and seasoned Korean BBQ enthusiasts.
Both samgyeopsal and dwaeji galbi are typically served with an assortment of side dishes, such as kimchi, pickled vegetables, and steamed rice.
Korean BBQ is a social and interactive dining experience, where diners typically grill their own meat at the table and enjoy the meal with friends and family.
Chicken (dak galbi)
Dak galbi is a popular Korean dish that consists of stir-fried marinated chicken with vegetables and a spicy sauce.
The dish is made by marinating chicken in a spicy sauce made from gochujang (a red chili paste), soy sauce, garlic, and other ingredients.
The chicken is then stir-fried with vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes.
The dish is often served on a hot plate and is meant to be shared with others, making it a great choice for groups or families.
Dak galbi is typically eaten by wrapping the chicken and vegetables in lettuce leaves or other types of leafy greens.
Seafood (grilled squid, shrimp)
Grilled squid and shrimp are popular seafood options in Korean BBQ. In this style of cooking, the squid and shrimp are typically marinated in a mixture of spices and sauces before being grilled over charcoal or a gas grill.
The marinade adds flavor and tenderness to the seafood, while the grilling adds a smoky char that enhances the natural sweetness of the squid and shrimp.
To prepare the grilled squid, the squid is typically cleaned and cut into manageable pieces before being marinated and grilled.
The cooking time for squid is relatively short, usually around 2-3 minutes per side, to avoid overcooking and toughening the meat.
Similarly, for grilled shrimp, the shrimp are typically deveined and skewered before being marinated and grilled.
The cooking time for shrimp is also relatively short, usually around 2-3 minutes per side, to avoid overcooking and making them rubbery.
Once cooked, the grilled squid and shrimp are typically served with an array of Korean BBQ side dishes, such as kimchi and steamed rice, for a delicious and satisfying meal.
Equipment and Tools
Grills and stovetop griddles
|Grills and Stovetop Griddles||Description|
|Korean-style charcoal grill||This traditional grill is made of cast iron and sits on top of a charcoal burner. The grill allows for high heat and smoky flavors, and is a popular choice for Korean BBQ enthusiasts.|
|Tabletop electric grill||This type of grill is perfect for indoor grilling, as it does not produce smoke or require ventilation. The griddle is made of non-stick material and can be easily cleaned. It is a popular choice for apartment dwellers or those with limited outdoor space.|
|Gas griddle||This type of griddle is often used in Korean BBQ restaurants, as it allows for quick and even cooking of large quantities of meat. It is heated by propane or natural gas and features a large flat cooking surface.|
|Cast iron stovetop griddle||This griddle is a versatile option for both indoor and outdoor grilling. It can be used on a stovetop burner or on a portable propane grill. Cast iron provides even heat distribution and can create a sear on the meat for added flavor.|
Charcoal and gas grilling options
|Charcoal Grill||A traditional method of grilling that uses charcoal briquettes or natural lump charcoal to generate heat. Charcoal grilling imparts a smoky flavor to the meat and allows for precise temperature control. Popular charcoal grills for Korean BBQ include the Weber Kettle grill, the Big Green Egg, and the Hibachi grill.|
|Gas Grill||A modern grilling method that uses propane or natural gas to generate heat. Gas grills are known for their convenience and quick heating time. They also allow for easy temperature control and cleaning. Popular gas grills for Korean BBQ include the Weber Spirit, the Char-Broil Performance, and the Napoleon Prestige.|
Essential cooking utensils
|Tongs||Long-handled tongs are essential for handling hot meat|
|Grill brush||A brush for cleaning the grill after use|
|Scissors||Used to cut meat into smaller pieces for grilling|
|Cutting board||A sturdy cutting board for cutting meat and vegetables|
|Marinade brush||A brush for applying marinade to the meat before grilling|
|Grill basket||A metal basket for grilling smaller items like shrimp or veggies|
These cooking utensils are all essential for a successful Korean BBQ. Tongs are used to pick up and flip meat on the grill without burning your hands.
A grill brush is used to clean the grill before and after cooking. Scissors are used to cut meat into smaller pieces that are easier to cook and eat.
A cutting board is necessary for cutting up vegetables and meat before grilling.
A marinade brush is used to apply the marinade to the meat before grilling to give it more flavor.
Lastly, a grill basket is useful for cooking smaller items like shrimp or vegetables that might fall through the grill grates.
Safety tips for grilling
- Keep your grill clean: A dirty grill can be a fire hazard. Make sure to clean your grill after each use to avoid flare-ups caused by grease buildup.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby: In case of a fire, you should have a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it. Keep it close to the grill and make sure it’s in good working order.
- Use long-handled tools: To prevent burns and keep your hands away from the flames, use long-handled tongs and spatulas when grilling.
- Keep children and pets away: Grilling can be dangerous, especially for children and pets. Keep a safe distance and make sure they don’t play around the grill.
- Don’t leave the grill unattended: Never leave your grill unattended while it’s in use. Keep a close eye on it and make sure it’s not causing any problems.
- Avoid overloading the grill: Overloading the grill with too much food can cause uneven cooking and may lead to flare-ups. Cook in small batches and give the grill enough space to do its job.
- Use the right tools and equipment: Make sure you’re using the right tools and equipment for grilling, including a meat thermometer to ensure that your meat is cooked to a safe temperature.
- Keep a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials: When grilling, make sure to keep a safe distance from buildings and other flammable materials. You don’t want to accidentally start a fire.
- Follow the instructions for your grill: Different grills have different safety features and operating instructions. Make sure to read the manual for your grill and follow the safety guidelines.
Preparing the Meat and Marinades
Choosing the right cuts of meat
It’s important to choose cuts of meat that are tender and have a good amount of fat, which helps to keep the meat juicy and flavorful during grilling.
Certain cuts of meat are traditionally used in Korean BBQ, so it’s helpful to know what those are. Here are some of the best cuts of meat for Korean BBQ:
|Cut of Meat||Description||Best for|
|Beef Short Ribs (Galbi)||Cut across the bone, these ribs are marbled with fat and have a sweet, savory flavor||Grilling and marinating|
|Beef Brisket||A tough cut of meat that becomes tender when slow-cooked or marinated||Braising or grilling|
|Ribeye||A tender and well-marbled cut of beef that is flavorful and juicy||Grilling|
|Sirloin||A leaner cut of beef that is still tender and flavorful||Grilling|
|Pork Belly (Samgyeopsal)||Thinly sliced pork belly with layers of fat that crisp up when grilled||Grilling|
|Pork Ribs (Dwaeji Galbi)||Cut across the bone, these ribs are marbled with fat and have a slightly sweet flavor||Grilling and marinating|
|Chicken Thighs||A juicy and flavorful cut of chicken that is great for grilling||Grilling|
|Beef Tongue||A tender cut of beef with a unique flavor||Grilling|
When choosing your cuts of meat, it’s important to select high-quality meat from a reputable source. Look for meat that is well-marbled and fresh, and avoid any meat that has an off odor or appearance.
With the right cuts of meat and a little bit of preparation, you can create delicious and authentic Korean BBQ dishes at home.
Homemade marinade recipes
|Bulgogi Marinade||A sweet and savory marinade made with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and other seasonings. Typically used for beef bulgogi, but can also be used for other meats.|
|Galbi Marinade||A soy sauce-based marinade with a touch of sweetness from sugar or honey, garlic, onion, and sesame oil. Often used for beef short ribs (galbi) but can also be used for other meats.|
|Dak Galbi Marinade||A spicy marinade made with gochujang (Korean chili paste), soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and other seasonings. Typically used for chicken (dak galbi) but can also be used for other meats.|
|Spicy Pork Marinade||A spicy and savory marinade made with gochujang, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and other seasonings. Typically used for pork (samgyeopsal) but can also be used for other meats.|
|Kalbi Marinade||Similar to galbi marinade, but with the addition of grated Asian pear or apple for sweetness and tenderness. Often used for beef short ribs (kalbi) but can also be used for other meats.|
|Jeyuk Bokkeum Marinade||A spicy and sweet marinade made with gochujang, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and other seasonings. Typically used for pork (jeyuk bokkeum) but can also be used for other meats.|
|Saeu Marinade||A marinade made with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and other seasonings for grilling shrimp (saeu gui).|
Tips for marinating meat
- Use the right cut of meat: For Korean BBQ, it’s important to choose the right cut of meat for the specific dish. For example, beef short ribs (galbi) should be cut across the bone to make thin slices, while pork belly (samgyeopsal) should be sliced thicker.
- Marinate overnight: To ensure that the flavors penetrate the meat fully, it’s best to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. This allows the meat to absorb the flavors and become more tender.
- Use a vacuum sealer: Using a vacuum sealer can help the marinade penetrate the meat more deeply and evenly. The vacuum sealer removes air from the meat, allowing the marinade to fully coat the meat.
- Massage the meat: Before marinating, massage the meat with your hands to tenderize it and open up the meat fibers. This helps the marinade penetrate the meat more easily.
- Use fresh ingredients: Use fresh ingredients when making the marinade, including fresh garlic, ginger, and green onions. This ensures that the flavors are strong and the marinade is effective.
- Add fruit or fruit juice: Adding fruit or fruit juice to the marinade can help tenderize the meat and add sweetness. Asian pears or pineapple juice are commonly used in Korean BBQ marinades.
- Don’t reuse marinade: Once you have marinated the meat, do not reuse the marinade for another batch of meat. This can lead to cross-contamination and foodborne illness.
- Bring meat to room temperature: Before grilling the meat, allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. This ensures even cooking and prevents the meat from becoming tough.
- Pat dry the meat: Before grilling the meat, pat it dry with paper towels to remove excess marinade. This prevents the meat from steaming and helps achieve a nice sear on the grill.
- Experiment with flavors: Korean BBQ marinades can vary widely in flavor and ingredients. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavor combinations to find your favorite.
Side Dishes and Banchan
Kimchi and pickled vegetables
Kimchi and pickled vegetables are traditional Korean side dishes that are commonly served alongside Korean BBQ.
Kimchi is a spicy and tangy fermented vegetable dish that is made with Napa cabbage, radishes, scallions, garlic, and a blend of seasonings such as chili pepper flakes, ginger, and fish sauce. The mixture is then allowed to ferment for several days, giving it a distinct sour and slightly fizzy taste.
Pickled vegetables are another type of side dish that is commonly served with Korean BBQ. These can include a variety of vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, turnips, and daikon radishes, which are pickled in vinegar, salt, and sugar.
The pickling process adds a tart and crunchy flavor to the vegetables, which provides a refreshing balance to the rich and savory flavors of the grilled meats.
Both the kimchi and pickled vegetables have a long history in Korean cuisine and are an important part of Korean culture.
These side dishes are often passed down from generation to generation and are prepared with great care and attention to detail.
They are not only tasty but also have a number of health benefits, as they are packed with probiotics and nutrients that support digestion and overall health.
Steamed rice is a staple side dish served with Korean BBQ. It is a simple dish made by cooking rice in a pot with water, which is then steamed to produce fluffy, tender grains of rice.
Steamed rice is a fundamental part of Korean cuisine and is often served as a side dish with many Korean meals, not just with BBQ.
Traditionally, Korean rice is cooked using a stone pot called a dolsot, which is heated over an open flame until the rice is crispy and slightly browned on the bottom.
This method of cooking rice results in a unique texture and flavor that is highly prized in Korean cuisine. However, for Korean BBQ, steamed rice is the more common and simpler option.
Steamed rice is often served in small individual bowls alongside grilled meats and other side dishes.
It is typically eaten by using chopsticks to scoop up small portions of rice and then eaten along with a bite of the grilled meat or other side dishes.
The mild, neutral flavor of steamed rice makes it a perfect accompaniment to the bold, savory flavors of Korean BBQ.
Vegetable side dishes
Also known as “banchan” in Korean, are an essential part of any Korean meal, including Korean BBQ. These dishes are typically served in small portions and are meant to complement the main course.
Banchan dishes include a variety of vegetables, ranging from pickled and fermented to steamed and stir-fried.
Some popular banchan dishes served alongside Korean BBQ include kimchi, which is a spicy fermented cabbage dish, and namul, which is a type of Korean vegetable side dish made with a variety of fresh vegetables, such as spinach, bean sprouts, or fernbrake.
Banchan is typically served in a communal style, with multiple small dishes placed in the center of the table for diners to share.
In Korean culture, the act of sharing and eating banchan is seen as a way of bringing people together and fostering a sense of community.
In addition to being a delicious accompaniment to Korean BBQ, banchan dishes are also an important part of Korean culinary traditions and are a source of pride for many Korean families and chefs.
Many banchan recipes have been passed down through generations and are unique to each family or region in Korea.
Dipping sauces are an essential part of Korean BBQ. Traditionally, Korean BBQ is served with a variety of dipping sauces, which are used to add flavor and enhance the overall dining experience.
Dipping sauces are typically served in small dishes or bowls alongside the grilled meat and side dishes.
There are many different types of dipping sauces used in Korean BBQ, and each has its own unique flavor profile.
Some common dipping sauces include soy sauce-based sauces, chili pepper pastes, vinegar-based sauces, and sesame oil-based sauces.
Some dipping sauces are spicy and tangy, while others are sweet and savory.
In Korean culture, sharing food is an important part of socializing and building relationships. Dipping sauces are often shared among diners, and each person can customize their own sauce to suit their taste preferences.
In addition to adding flavor to the meat, dipping sauces are also used to cleanse the palate between bites.
Grilling Techniques and Tips
Proper grilling temperatures
|Type of Meat||Recommended Grilling Temperature|
|Beef (bulgogi)||375°F (190°C)|
|Beef (galbi)||425°F (218°C)|
|Pork (samgyeopsal)||400°F (204°C)|
|Pork (dwaeji galbi)||425°F (218°C)|
|Chicken (dak galbi)||375°F (190°C)|
|Seafood (shrimp, squid)||350°F (177°C)|
How to grill meat to perfection
- Use the right cut of meat: For Korean BBQ, it’s best to choose cuts of meat that are thinly sliced and marbled with fat, such as beef brisket, ribeye, or short ribs. These cuts are tender and flavorful, and the fat helps to keep the meat moist during grilling.
- Preheat the grill: Make sure your grill is preheated to the proper temperature before adding the meat. The ideal temperature for Korean BBQ is medium-high heat, which is around 375-400°F.
- Oil the grates: To prevent the meat from sticking to the grill grates, use a brush or a paper towel to lightly coat the grates with vegetable oil.
- Grill the meat on both sides: Place the meat on the grill and cook it for a few minutes on each side until it is browned and slightly charred. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the meat and the desired level of doneness.
- Use tongs to flip the meat: Avoid using a fork to turn the meat, as this can cause the juices to escape and make the meat dry. Instead, use tongs to gently turn the meat over.
- Baste the meat with marinade: Brush the meat with marinade as it cooks to add flavor and moisture. Be sure to use a clean brush to avoid contamination.
- Rest the meat: After grilling, remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute and makes the meat more tender.
Flipping and turning meat
Flipping and turning meat during Korean BBQ is an important aspect of grilling the meat to perfection.
The general practice is to flip or turn the meat over once it has been cooked on one side for a certain amount of time, and then cook the other side for the same amount of time to ensure even cooking.
Best practices for flipping and turning meat during Korean BBQ include:
- Wait until the meat is properly seared on one side before flipping it over. This will help to prevent the meat from sticking to the grill or griddle.
- Use tongs or a spatula to flip the meat over, rather than piercing it with a fork or knife. Piercing the meat can cause it to lose juices and dry out.
- Don’t flip the meat too often. Flipping the meat too often can cause it to cook unevenly and prevent it from developing a good sear.
- Follow the cooking times recommended in your recipe or based on your experience. Different types of meat require different cooking times and temperatures, so it’s important to adjust your flipping and turning accordingly.
- Adjust the temperature of your grill or griddle as needed to ensure even cooking. If one side of the meat is cooking faster than the other, you may need to adjust the temperature or move the meat to a different part of the grill or griddle.
Avoiding common mistakes
|Common Mistake||Best Practice|
|Over-marinating meat||Follow recommended marinating times and ratios of ingredients|
|Using low-quality meat||Choose high-quality meat from a reputable source|
|Incorrect grill temperature||Preheat the grill to the recommended temperature|
|Overcooking or undercooking meat||Use a meat thermometer and follow recommended cooking times|
|Flipping meat too often||Flip meat only once or twice to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking|
|Not letting meat rest after cooking||Let meat rest for a few minutes to retain moisture and flavor|
|Using the wrong type of grill||Use a grill appropriate for the type and quantity of meat being cooked|
|Not having enough side dishes||Prepare a variety of side dishes to balance the flavors and textures of the meat|
|Not properly ventilating the grilling area||Grill in a well-ventilated area to prevent smoke and fumes from building up|
|Not having enough cooking utensils||Have a variety of tongs, spatulas, and brushes on hand for grilling and basting|
Korean BBQ Recipes
Bulgogi is a classic Korean BBQ dish made with thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet and savory sauce. The word “bulgogi” translates to “fire meat”, referencing the traditional method of grilling the meat over an open flame. The dish is typically made with sirloin or ribeye steak that has been sliced thinly and marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, and other seasonings.
Bulgogi has a long history in Korean cuisine, dating back to the Goguryeo period in the 37 BC. Originally, it was considered a dish for the wealthy and was only served on special occasions. However, as the availability of beef increased, bulgogi became a more common and popular dish in Korean households. Today, it is often enjoyed with a variety of side dishes, such as rice, kimchi, and pickled vegetables. Bulgogi is also a popular ingredient in Korean fusion dishes, such as bulgogi tacos and bulgogi fried rice.
Galbi (beef short ribs)
Galbi, also known as kalbi, is a Korean BBQ dish made from beef short ribs that are marinated in a sweet and savory sauce before being grilled or broiled.
The dish is traditionally made with beef ribs that have been cut across the bone, resulting in thin slices of meat that are perfect for grilling.
Galbi is a popular dish in Korea and is often served at special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and holidays.
It is also a common menu item at Korean BBQ restaurants around the world. The marinade for galbi typically includes soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and other seasonings that give the meat a complex flavor profile.
In Korean culture, sharing food is a common way of showing love and respect to others, and galbi is often shared among family and friends at gatherings.
The dish is usually served with a variety of side dishes, including kimchi, steamed rice, and lettuce leaves for wrapping the meat.
Eating galbi is a communal experience that brings people together to enjoy good food and good company.
Samgyeopsal (pork belly)
Samgyeopsal is a popular Korean barbecue dish that consists of thick, fatty slices of pork belly grilled on a tabletop grill.
It is a beloved comfort food in Korea and has become increasingly popular around the world.
Traditionally, samgyeopsal is a dish that is enjoyed in a group setting with family or friends.
The pork belly is usually accompanied by a variety of side dishes, such as kimchi, pickled vegetables, and fresh lettuce leaves for wrapping.
It is typically eaten by wrapping the grilled pork belly in lettuce leaves and adding other ingredients and sauces to taste.
In Korea, samgyeopsal is often enjoyed after a long day of work or as part of a weekend outing with friends.
It is a dish that brings people together and is celebrated for its rich, savory flavors and its ability to bring people together.
Dwaeji galbi (pork ribs)
Dwaeji galbi is a popular Korean dish that consists of marinated pork ribs grilled over charcoal or gas flame.
The dish is commonly served in Korean BBQ restaurants, as well as in homes for special occasions and gatherings.
The marinade for dwaeji galbi typically includes soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and other seasonings, giving the ribs a savory, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of smokiness from the grilling process.
In Korean culture, sharing food is an important part of socializing and building relationships. Dwaeji galbi is often enjoyed with a group of friends or family members, with everyone participating in grilling the meat and enjoying the meal together.
The dish is also a popular street food in Korea, where it is often served in portable grills and enjoyed as a quick snack or meal on-the-go.
Dak galbi (spicy chicken)
Dak galbi is a popular Korean BBQ dish made with spicy marinated chicken that is grilled on a hot plate or over charcoal.
The dish originated in the city of Chuncheon, in Gangwon province, where it was first served in the 1960s. It is often prepared and eaten as a communal dish, with the chicken and vegetables served in a large skillet and shared among diners.
Traditionally, dak galbi is made with gochujang, a spicy red pepper paste, which gives the dish its signature heat and flavor.
The chicken is typically marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and ginger, along with the gochujang, before being grilled with vegetables such as cabbage, onions, and sweet potatoes.
Dak galbi is a beloved dish in Korea and has become popular in other parts of the world as well.
It is often served with rice or noodles, and is sometimes accompanied by side dishes such as kimchi and pickled vegetables. Eating dak galbi is a fun and social experience that is perfect for sharing with friends and family.
Grilled squid is a popular dish in Korean BBQ, known as Ojingeo-gui in Korean. The dish consists of whole squid, cleaned and prepared, and grilled over an open flame.
Squid is a staple in Korean cuisine, and grilled squid is often served as a side dish or as a main course with rice and other side dishes.
Traditionally, grilled squid is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and other seasonings before grilling.
The marinade helps to infuse the squid with flavor and keeps it moist during grilling. The squid is typically grilled whole, either on skewers or directly on the grill. Once cooked, it is cut into bite-sized pieces and served hot.
Grilled squid is a popular street food in Korea and is often enjoyed at outdoor markets and festivals.
It is also a popular dish in Korean restaurants, particularly those specializing in seafood. In Korean BBQ, grilled squid is a favorite side dish, providing a delicious contrast to the meatier BBQ dishes.
Grilled shrimp is a popular dish in Korean BBQ that consists of shrimp skewered and grilled over a hot flame. This dish is traditionally served with a variety of Korean BBQ side dishes, such as kimchi, rice, and dipping sauces.
In Korean cuisine, seafood is often considered a delicacy and is a popular ingredient in many dishes. Grilled shrimp is typically marinated in a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and other seasonings to enhance its natural flavor.
Korean BBQ is more than just a meal, it is a social and cultural experience that emphasizes the importance of sharing food with others.
Korean BBQ restaurants often feature grills built into the tables, allowing diners to cook their own meat and seafood right at the table. This interactive dining experience is meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, making it a special and memorable occasion.
Making Korean BBQ at Home
How to set up a Korean BBQ table at home
- Choose a location: Find a suitable location in your home where you can set up your Korean BBQ table. It can be indoors or outdoors, but make sure it’s well-ventilated and safe for grilling.
- Set up the grill: Set up your grill or stovetop griddle on a sturdy and heat-resistant surface. Make sure it’s level and stable to prevent accidents.
- Prepare the meat and marinades: Prepare the meat and marinades according to your preferred recipes. Keep the marinated meat in the refrigerator until ready to grill.
- Prepare the side dishes and banchan: Prepare the side dishes and banchan that you will serve with your Korean BBQ. These can include kimchi, pickled vegetables, steamed rice, and dipping sauces.
- Set up the table: Cover your table with a heat-resistant tablecloth or mat. Set up your portable grill or stovetop griddle in the center of the table. Place the meat, marinades, and side dishes on separate plates or bowls around the grill.
- Provide utensils and cooking tools: Provide tongs, spatulas, and other utensils for grilling and cooking. You may also need scissors for cutting the meat into smaller pieces, as well as small bowls for dipping sauces.
- Add some ambiance: Add some ambiance to your Korean BBQ table by playing some Korean music or decorating the table with Korean-themed decorations.
- Start grilling: Once everything is set up, it’s time to start grilling! Follow the cooking times and techniques for each type of meat and enjoy your delicious Korean BBQ feast.
Cooking tips for indoor and outdoor grilling
- Use a stovetop grill pan: A stovetop grill pan can help mimic the char-grilled flavor of outdoor grilling. Make sure to preheat the grill pan before adding the meat.
- Use a well-ventilated area: Indoor grilling can produce a lot of smoke, so it’s important to have a well-ventilated area. Open a window or turn on the kitchen hood fan to help remove the smoke.
- Preheat the oven: For thicker cuts of meat, it’s recommended to cook them on the stovetop grill pan first and finish cooking them in the oven. Preheat the oven to the recommended temperature in the recipe.
- Don’t overcrowd the grill pan: Overcrowding the grill pan can lead to uneven cooking and steaming of the meat. Leave enough space between each piece of meat for even cooking.
- Cook the meat in batches: If you have a lot of meat to cook, it’s better to cook them in batches rather than overcrowding the grill pan. This will help ensure that the meat is cooked evenly and has a nice char-grilled flavor.
- Monitor the heat: Keep an eye on the temperature of the grill pan to prevent the meat from burning. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a consistent temperature.
- Use a meat thermometer: To ensure that the meat is cooked to the proper temperature, use a meat thermometer. Different cuts of meat require different cooking temperatures, so refer to the recipe for the recommended temperature.
- Let the meat rest: Once the meat is cooked, let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it. This will help the juices redistribute and result in a juicier and more flavorful meat.
Recommended cooking tools and equipment
|Korean BBQ grill (tabletop or built-in)||Provides a large cooking surface for grilling meat and vegetables. Some models have adjustable heat settings and removable grease trays for easy cleaning.|
|Tongs and spatulas||Essential for handling meat and flipping it on the grill. Long-handled tongs are especially useful for reaching meat in the center of the grill.|
|Meat shears||Used to cut meat into bite-sized pieces, especially useful for pork belly and beef short ribs.|
|Basting brush||Used to apply marinade or sauce to the meat while it’s grilling. Silicone brushes are heat-resistant and easy to clean.|
|Meat thermometer||Helps ensure that meat is cooked to the correct temperature and safe to eat.|
|Cast iron skillet||Useful for cooking side dishes like kimchi or stir-fried vegetables alongside the meat. Can also be used for indoor grilling if a Korean BBQ grill is not available.|
|Korean stone pot (dolsot)||Used for cooking rice or hot pot dishes like budae jjigae (Korean army stew). The stone retains heat well and creates a crispy crust on the bottom layer of rice.|
|Butane torch||Used to char and caramelize the meat after grilling. Creates a restaurant-style finish on the meat.|
|Cooling rack||Used to rest meat after grilling, allowing it to cool and juices to redistribute evenly. This prevents the meat from becoming dry.|
Korean BBQ Restaurants in Korea and Beyond
Top Korean BBQ restaurants in Seoul
|Restaurant Name||Location||Famous For||Most Popular Dish|
|Gwangjang Market||Jongno-gu||Traditional market||Bindae-tteok (mung bean pancake)|
|Maple Tree||Gangnam-gu||High-quality beef||Hanu (Korean beef)|
|Seorae Galmaegi||Gangnam-gu||Premium pork||Pork galbi (marinated ribs)|
|Yongsusan||Jongno-gu||Upscale Korean cuisine||Samgyeopsal gui (grilled pork)|
|Palsaek Samgyeopsal||Mapo-gu||Flavored pork||Samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly)|
|Baekjeong||Various locations||High-quality meat||Combo set of beef and pork|
|Gopchang Jeongol||Jongno-gu||Beef and tripe hot pot||Gopchang jeongol (intestine stew)|
|Bulgogi Brothers||Various locations||Modern Korean cuisine||Bulgogi (marinated beef)|
Best Korean BBQ restaurants in other cities around the world
|Los Angeles, US||Park’s BBQ||Galbi (short ribs)|
|New York City, US||Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong||Pork belly (samgyeopsal)|
|Toronto, Canada||Song Cook’s||Beef bulgogi|
|Sydney, Australia||Danjee||Pork belly (samgyeopsal)|
|London, UK||Koba||Beef bulgogi and galbi (short ribs)|
|Tokyo, Japan||Gyukatsu Motomura||Gyukatsu (deep-fried beef cutlet)|
|Hong Kong||Mingles||Korean BBQ set menu with beef, pork, and seafood|
Regional differences in Korean BBQ
|Seoul and Gyeonggi||Known for bulgogi, marinated beef, and galbi, grilled beef short ribs. These dishes are often served with soybean paste stew, kimchi stew, and other vegetable side dishes.|
|Jeolla and Chungcheong||Famous for galmaegisal, pork skirt meat, and gopchang, grilled beef or pork intestines. These dishes are often served with garlic, green onions, and other vegetable side dishes.|
|Gyeongsang and Jeju||Known for dwaeji galbi, grilled pork ribs, and samgyeopsal, pork belly. These dishes are often served with spicy dipping sauces and other vegetable side dishes.|
|Gangwon and Hwanghae||Famous for naengmyeon, cold buckwheat noodles, and hwae, raw fish. These dishes are often served with vinegar and mustard dipping sauces, and other vegetable side dishes.|
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