Monday, December 5, 2011

Korean BBQ

Cynthia from Eating in Neverland asked if I could do a post on Korean BBQ because although she has a few restaurants near her, she’s unsure of what to order or how to eat it once it arrives.  I feel you, Cynthia.  There were so many cuisines I shied away from back home because I was intimidated by the unknown factor.  I love new foods, new textures,  new flavors, and new dining experiences so, I’m really grateful that our travels have taken away the option of  opting out. Many times on the road we either figure it out or simply don’t eat. And for those who know me, that second option isn’t an option for me.

I’m going to say I officially fell in love with Korean bbq last year in Japan, although our favorite restaurant while living in Greece in 2009 was also a Korean joint.  Although the bulgogi (marinated beef) was really good, I think we were mainly drawn there because it wasn’t yet another taverna.  Mainland Greek food gets really old, really fast. I digress.

I’ve found when you walk into an ethnic restaurant and you look like you don’t have a clue, the staff is usually more than happy to help you out.  People love to share their culture and a huge part of anyone’s culture is their food- so don’t be afraid to walk in and say “I’ve always wanted to try this, so can you help me order the best dishes?”  I've never had anyone steer me in the wrong direction.

So, I’m obviously no expert, and I can’t begin to tell you about all the other dishes they offer (except bulgogi- really delish marinated beef you can eat with rice) but if you want the Korean bbq experience, this is pretty much what we’ve run into, whether it be in Korea, Japan, Australia or the UK…

The menu is probably going to have pictures and pictures are always helpful.  For the bbq, you’re going to find a myriad of beef and/or pork cuts to grill at your table on an electric or charcoal little grill.  If they have a mixed platter, that may be how you want to go the first time so you can figure out what cuts you like best.  Our faves are the ribs, which are cut off the bone, marbled sirloin and the pork.  The pork usually looks like a huge, thick slab of bacon…


Whichever cuts you choose, it is going to come with lettuce leaves, miso paste, sesame oil, bean sprouts, maybe some peanuts, maybe some peppers, maybe some garlic and always kimchi (pickled spicy cabbage).   When we were in Korea we were also given an omelet, soup, tofu, onions and mushrooms for the grill and a new sauce that the lady instructed us to dip certain meats in. I think it just depends on the restaurant. If it doesn’t come with rice I’d recommend ordering some.

Okay, so now you’ve got your table full of little dishes and meat.  They’ll get the grill fired up for you and sometimes even cook it for you-especially if they think you can’t be trusted Winking smile .  Either way, they’ll give you tongs to grill the meat and scissors to cut it into pieces.  Jules always want to control the grilling and I’m more than happy to nosh on sprouts and kimchi (oh, kimchi- how I heart thee!) while she’s cooking…



The meat is thin and only takes a few minutes, so while it’s cooking you can prepare your lettuce wrap.  If I’m hungry I’m going to put a little rice in the wrap just to make it more substantial.  Then I add a lot of miso (it’s the salty component, the meat isn’t seasoned so you’re going to want to use at least a little- being from the South, I used a lot), some sprouts and whatever else may be on the table.  When the meat is ready I dip it in my sesame oil or you can just add a little to your rice and then pop the meat into the wrap…


Roll it all up like a burrito and voilà- you’re eating Korean bbq!

If you want you can add the kimchi, I just love the flavor on its own so much I usually just eat it in-between wraps.  (If you like spicy foods, you’re going to love kimchi.  It is extremely good for you too! ) I’ll also just dip the meat in miso and sesame and eat with rice when I’m tired of the assembly or if it’s a really good cut of meat.

Cynthia- I hope you found this helpful and I hope to hear about your first foray into Korean bbq soon! 

Atlanta friends- get ready to attend Korean bbq dinners as soon as we have a kitchen again!! I’ve already bought the Korean chopsticks and I’m seriously going to be making my own kimchi…


even if Jules says she’s not thrilled about me burying and fermenting food in the backyard.

1 comment:

cynthia said...

OK, I'm down with the meat and rice and sauce in lettuce cups! Easy. I know my BF will eat anything else that I am not sure of. :) Will report back!