I miss those times when Danny and I were still dating and his friends would organize a samgyeopsal night at their homes. We were about 6-9 people in one small studio room, having samgyeopsal for dinner and chitchat all night. How time flies! We can’t do it over again just like old times because some already have kids and some went back to Korea.
삼겹살 (Samgyeopsal / Grilled Pork Belly), a popular Korean dish preferably eaten at night. It literally means 삼 (sam / three) 겹 (gyeop / layer) and 살 (sal / meat). It is a very easy meal anyone can make at home with at least 3 ingredients. In Korea, March 3 is considered Samgyeopsal day. This dish usually goes well with 된장찌개 (doenjang jjigae / soybean soup) and/or soju.
Korean slang: 삼소 ‘SAMSO’ = 삼겹살 (samgyeopsal) + 소주 (soju)
⋆ clean and fresh lettuce – others opt for 깻잎 (kketnip / perilla leaves) which gives a stronger taste.
⋆ pork belly strips – ideally, thick sliced pork belly.
⋆ 쌈장 (ssamjang) – a mixed fermented paste made of 고추장 (gochujang / red chili paste) and 된장 (doenjang / soybean paste) that can be bought at any Korean mart.
⋆ optional spices : cloves of garlic and slices of onion – raw or may be grilled with the pork ; Korean spring onion salad
⋆ optional : kimchi and cooked rice
1. Grill unmarinated pork strips on a hot pan until it changes color. We sprinkled some herb spices, though and it tasted great!
2. One golden rule in cooking the meat is to turn it over only ONCE.
3. When it is thoroughly cooked, cut strips to bite-size.
4. Wrap a piece of pork, a bit of ssamjang and any spices mentioned above (if desired) with the leaf. Enjoy while it’s hot.
I like mine with meat, ssamjang, cooked rice and kimchi, wrapped with any leaf. I know garlic helps maintain normal blood pressure or lowers it, but I usually omit it. Kimchi is also good for the health. The next time I’ll eat samgyeopsal outside the house, I would love to try it in 포장마차 (pojangmacha) – those small tent stalls on the sidewalks at night.