Korean BBQ Basics: How To Cook And Eat Like A Pro
Since first arriving to Korea, my BBQ journey has had its ups and downs. The gal who could not use chopsticks can now specify her meat, soju, and lettuce requirements. Korean BBQ is a communal cooking experience. You should prepare to cook your own meat with your dinner group.
First things first. You got to get to your table. If you are lucky, your restaurant will provide seats with barrels, or compartments underneath your chair, to put your coat into. You will really appreciate this afterwards as your belongings will avoid the not so pleasant lingering meat smell.
How to Order
Initially you will sit down and choose the type of meat you want. I personally like sam gyeob sal (pork belly) or Kalbi (Rib eye). You usually order based on the number of people. (3 people = 3 orders of meat).
The meat will be accompanied by delicious sides or (banchan). A combination of veggies, soups, sauces, and of course kimchi. These are all included in your meal and even better are unlimited!
If you are lucky enough to get to a restaurant with waiters who cook the meat for you, you can just sit back, chat with your friends about that awesome Chuseok holiday you took, and relax.
At other restaurants, you should definitely take the time to learn or risk having a kind but exasperated Ajumma do it for you. (Yes. This HAS happened to me on several occasions.)
How to Cook
- Cut your meat! You will be given a pair of cooking scissors and tongs to cut up your meat and place it on the hot grill.
- Pay attention to your meat and don’t flip too many times. (I’m a big fan of cooking my kimchi and garlic on the grill as well.)
- Check to make sure the meat is fully cooked and move it off to the side of the grill.
- Lastly, (and this is where all of those great side dishes come in) take a slice of lettuce (sanchu), your beautifully cooked meat, add in some other side dishes, and fold the lettuce over to take your first bite.
I love combining my meat with kimchi, garlic, and Namul (korean spinach) all wrapped in lettuce. As long as you don’t stuff it too full, you can eat your sam gyeob sal wrap in one bite.
And that’s your Korean Barbecue Basics. Happy Eating!