If you know anything about Korean cuisine or Korean culture, you’re likely to have heard of the popular dining method that is Korean barbecue.
Korean barbecue refers to the grilling of meats- mainly beef, chicken, or pork- as well as vegetables that are prepared on either a charcoal grill or a gas grill that is built directly into the table itself.
The cuisine that is created by Korean barbecue is known for its delicious, savory tastes and so, with this in mind, we are going to be looking at 25 Korean barbecue recipes that are sure to get your taste buds tingling! Let’s get started.
Korean barbecue beef- known in Korean as bulgogi- is a quintessential Korean dish made up of thin slices of either sirloin, rib-eye, or tenderloin beef which is then marinated in a savory and sweet sauce before being cooked over a grill, creating a tender and tasty meat dish.
Dak bulgogi is basically the chicken variation of traditional bulgogi, made up of thinly sliced marinated chicken.
With dak bulgogi, you can use any kind of chicken meat that you prefer, whether that is the thigh or the breast.
Galbi translates to ribs in the Korean language, and LA galbi is a specific style of barbecued beef short ribs.
LA galbi is cut very thin- at around a quarter of an inch thick- right across the bone. This creates a thinner and longer strip of meat that also includes three pieces of bone.
Regular galbi is very similar to LA galbi, though it is prepared slightly differently.
It is made from the same, thinly cut slices of barbecued beef short ribs, but rather than being cut only across the bone of the meat, it is cut both across and along the bone.
This makes regular galbi a thicker choice that only has one piece of bone.
Whilst we are on the subject of beef ribs, tteokgalbi is another unique take on the standard galbi.
The meat in tteokgalbi is pounded and minced on the bone before it is marinated in a sauce- made up of savory, sweet, and salty flavors- which is then grilled.
This style of galbi has a softer and tender texture.
As the name suggests, this dish is the regular tteokgalbi- beef short ribs where the meat is roughly chopped and seasoned before it is grilled- but with the addition of cheese.
Translating to “pork fire meat” in Korean, this Korean barbecue dish is made up of tender pork slices that are marinated in a spicy, red chili paste, which is what gives it that “fire” like taste.
Simple yet delicious, this dish consists of pork that has been marinated in doenjang, which is a Korean, fermented soybean paste.
Doenjang adds a savory and salty flavor to the pork without being too overwhelming.
There are plenty of ways that vegetarians and vegans can enjoy Korean barbecue as well, such as with these portobello mushrooms.
Simply create a standard marinade- such as the ones that are used when making bulgogi- and use them with some meaty portobello mushrooms before grilling them.
If seafood is your preference, gochujang saewu could be more your thing!
This dish is made up of spicy grilled shrimp that is marinaded with a savory, spicy, and peppery gochujang sauce.
Another seafood barbecue dish, this is a choice that is not as spicy as the gochujang saewu gui thanks to utilizing a honey and garlic marinade rather than spicy gochujang sauce.
A popular Korean dish is often used as a side dish in Korean barbecue, tteokbokki is a simmered rice cake made from small garae-tteok, which are long, cylindrical, white rice cakes.
Pork belly is a highly popular dish in Korea and is often incorporated into Korean barbecue recipes.
In barbecue, samgyupsal gui is sliced thinly and marinated.
14. Salmon Bulgogi
If you would rather opt for a fish dish with your Korean barbecue, then salmon bulgogi is also a choice that you can go for.
Much like the other forms of bulgogi, salmon bulgogi is made up of thinly sliced strips of the chosen meat that has been marinated and then grilled.
Much like tteokbokki, kimchi is a highly popular side dish in Korean barbecue, as well as a popular general dish in the cuisine.
Kimchi is a traditional dish that is made of fermented or salted vegetables, such as Korean radish or napa cabbage.
Spicy, pickled cabbage is a particularly popular take on kimchi.
Fans of chicken legs can also have their fill when indulging in Korean barbecue thanks to these Korean barbecue chicken legs.
A combination sauce of ingredients such as ginger, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil can be used for the marinade. Once marinated, pop them on the grill to cook them.
Prefer chicken wings over chicken thighs? Then these crispy barbecue chicken wings could be the perfect addition to your Korean barbecue!
The sweet, spicy, and savory sauce that is gochujang is used as a marinade for the wings before they are grilled in the standard manner for Korean barbecue.
For a spicier, boneless take on chicken in Korean barbecue, consider dak-kkochi.
Dak-kkochi are spicy chicken skewers that are often sold as street food in Korea.
The marinade for these skewers tends to be made from particularly spicy Korean ingredients, such as gochu-garu (Korean hot pepper flakes) and the aforementioned gochujang, which is a Korean paste made from hot peppers.
These spices are combined with either rice or corn syrup, apple or white vinegar, vegetable, grape seed, or corn oil along with water to create that deliciously spicy glaze.
This next dish is similar to the previously mentioned dak-kkochi, but without the skewers.
It doesn’t matter what kind of chicken you use for maeun-dakbonggui, as both chicken breast and chicken thighs work fine.
The most important thing to remember is to score and slice the chicken nicely enough so that it will marinate well.
Fried chicken is a very popular dish in Korean culture, often considered the go-to guilty pleasure food that is consumed frequently with beer.
This popularity has led fried chicken to become a common part of Korean barbecue.
Yangnyeom tongdak is often seasoned in a similar manner to the other meats featured in Korean barbecue, such as with gochujang sauce.
Another choice for Korean barbecue if you prefer fish to meat is grilled mackerel, which is a staple in Korean home cooking that is often used as a breakfast dish.
Add some marinade and start grilling and your mackerel will be ready to dine on for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
That all-important gochujang sauce makes a reappearance in the next Korean barbecue dish, this time marinating some juicy pork shoulder steaks.
Combine the gochujang with sake, puréed garlic, oil, and mirin in a blender to create the rest of the marinade.
For something a little bit different with your Korean barbecue, give these Korean baked meatballs a try.
These meatballs are another that features gochujang along with soy sauce, plum or apricot jam, garlic, spring onions, and ginger.
These burgers are inspired by Korean beef bulgogi, featuring beef that has been marinated and then finely sliced before being grilled.
The marinade for the burgers consists of sesame oil, red pepper flakes, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
Fancy a burger inspired by Korean barbecue, but without the meat? Then this tofu variation on the beef bulgogi is sure to peak your appetite!
These burgers feature a patty that is made of tofu and topped with sesame seeds.
It is then smothered in a Korean barbecue sauce- made from garlic, maple syrup, rice vinegar, and gochujang- and topped off with some of that aforementioned kimchi.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Differences Between Korean Barbecue And American Barbecue?
Despite sharing the same name, there is an abundance of differences between Korean barbecue and American barbecue.
The major difference is the cut of the meat that is used, though the actual main meats themselves- beef, pork, and chicken- are the same.
In Korean barbecue, high-fat meat cuts are used the most often, as they are considered to be a more desirable choice. American meat cuts in barbecues are the meatiest that you can possibly get!
The reason for this difference is that Korea is a country that is mostly made up of uninhabitable mountains.
This makes raising animals for meat a challenge, therefore leading to difficulties when it comes to keeping up with the demand for meat.
As well as that, high-fat meat cuts are also popular due to the common use of picked dishes- such as kimchi- within Korean cuisine.
The combination of high-fat meat and the strong flavors of the pickled dishes makes for a perfect mixture of flavors. Classical American barbecues tend to use larger cuts from meats such as roasted chicken, ribs, or pork.
Another key difference is the taste of these different forms of barbecue. Korean barbecue foods tend to be covered in a marinade that is made up of distinctive flavors, such as the gochujang sauce that we have mentioned several times in the list above.
Other ingredients in Korean barbecue include soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, and vinegar, all of which give the meat a distinctively east Asian flavor.
American barbecue focuses on flavors that are bold and tangy, such as the strong sweetness that is associated with traditional American barbecue sauce.
These flavors could be considered overpowering in strength to some, particularly when compared to the delicate nature of certain flavors that are included in Korean barbecue.
What Are The Differences Between Korean Barbecue Side Dishes And American Barbecue Side Dishes?
The side dishes associated with American barbecue and Korean barbecue are also vastly different. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Popular American Barbecue Side Dishes
- Baked Beans
- Collard Greens
- Pasta, Grain, Bean, and Vegetable Salads
- Potato Salad
Popular Korean Barbecue Side Dishes
- Kimchi (Pickled Cabbage)
- Ssam-Mu (Pickled Radish)
- Oi Muchim (Korean Cucumber Salad)
- Pajeori (Korean Spicy Green Onion Salad)
- Yangpa Jangajji (Pickled Onions)
- Ssamjang (Korean Dipping Sauce)
As with the meats used in Korean barbecue, the side dishes also have a very different taste.
American side dishes are full of bold flavors that can be heavy on the stomach, whereas Korean side dishes are much lighter, with many of them having a sharp yet refreshing nature.
What Are Some Of The Most Popular Seasonings Used With Korean Barbecue?
There are a range of condiments and seasonings that are utilized with Korean barbecue, including the following:
- Gochujang: Red pepper paste
- Gochukaru: Red chili powder
- Kkae: Sesame Seeds
- Jocheong: Rice syrup
- Cheonil Yeom: Solar sea salt
- Mirin: Rice wine
- Hyunmi Shikcho: Rice vinegar
- Jinkanjang: Dark soy sauce
- Guk Kanjang: Soup soy sauce
- Deonjang: Soybean paste
- Sewoojeot: Fermented shrimp
- Maesil Aek: Green Plum Syrup
- Cham Gi Reum: Sesame Oil