For anyone planning to visit SouthKorea, no trip would be complete without stopping for some delicious samgyeopsal. Popular with both foreigners and native South Koreans, samgyeopsal- quite literally meaning “three layered flesh”- is simply grilled pork belly. Often going without a marinade or seasoning, samgyeopsal itself is rather unremarkable. The experience surrounding its consumption, however, is what makes it such a favorite dish.
Samgyeopsal at a restaurant is usually brought raw to the table, where it is then cooked on a grill in front of the diners- often by the diners themselves. As a general rule, samgyeopsal is served for a minimum of two- so the more the merrier!
The pork is consumed with a variety of side dishes called banchan, which are all included with the meal prices. Popular banchan are kimchi, onions, sliced garlic, mushrooms, perilla (an herb of the mint family), lettuce, and sliced chili peppers. Samgyeopsal is almost always served with dipping sauces. Ssamjang, a thick spicy paste made of sesame oil, red peppers, garlic and onion is a popular constant.
Eating all these items together can be tricky for first timers. Typically, the cooked pork is plucked straight from the grill and wrapped in lettuce or perilla, along withs samjang, kimchi, garlic, or any number of other side dishes. The wrap is then consumed whole. To enjoy a truly authentic Korean samgyeopsal dining experience, add a bottle or two of soju to the table.