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Korean BBQ – Pork Belly My Costco finally got around to carrying the boneless skinless pork belly, both whole and sliced. A 4.5 lb package of the 3/16 inch thick belly slices looked so pretty in the meat case that I persuaded it to get in my shopping cart. The meat manager said they were having a hard time keeping it in stock. I enjoy Korean BBQ and whenever I am in Korea a colleague and good friend always steers us to the great BQQ places for a good meal and even better socialization. This cook is dedicated to my longtime Korean friend ‘KJ' who has made it his mission to expand my palate on Korean BBQ and other cultural Korean dishes, for which I am thankful. Korean grilled pork belly here we come compliments of Big(Red)Joe. Korean barbecue is friends and family coming together for an extended casual meal of food and socialization. It traditionally involves a grill on the table, where everyone cooks their own meats and veggies. Roll up in a lettuce leaf with your choice of offered accompaniments, add various sauces or dip them. Eat with an array of sides. Some beer or soju to round it out. In Korean barbecue, every portion you put together can be different and every wrap is your own personal mini-bite fashioned form the assortment of items. Some Wonderful Grilled Meat This Was Round One of Many Plates (One enjoyable aspect to me, of Korean BBQ, is that each portion can vary in how you put it all together on the wrapper) While the ambiance of the meal is not quite the same as cooking it on charcoal grill on the table, I will say the result is very good. After all one can still socialize as they are building their portion from the serving platter. For the meal for three of us, I used about 2.5 lbs of the pork. There was none leftover! Note: This recipe is more or less what I paralleled for this Korean BBQ cook. To me these folks hit the mark on the sauces: http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/samgyeopsal-gui Ingredients other than the pork came from my local international market. Unfortunately, I picked the day to do BBQ when they were out of kimchi. So no kimchi with this meal … big party fail. But fortunately everything else was spot on and made up for the deficit. I also wanted some perilla (pickled sesame leaves) but alas this market did not stock them. Given what was and was not in stock at the market – this became a meal with a number of substitutes from the strict traditional Korean BBQ - but it all worked for a great meal and it really was Korean BBQ in the end! As in many Asian meals, the time is spent in the preparation of the meal not in the cooking phase. Let's Get Started The Sliced Pork (That is some really fine looking meat. Nice lean and fat. How can it not taste good grilled?) First I cut the belly slices in half to better manage the cook on the grill. They are then further cut after cooking at the table with scissors into "wrapper sized" portions when serving, To prevent the meat from curling up when grilling, I cut a number of small slits in the fat edge and a few in the lean edge. Stack up three or four whole slices and slit the edges in bulk, then cut in half for grilling. Half of the sliced meat had just a simple salt and pepper seasoning. My son asked for a marinated batch. so the other half was marinated for an hour in a mix of items that were in the fridge – teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, sriracha, minced garlic, brown sugar – not measured, just mixed until it tasted right. Salt and Pepper Marinated Some Key Ingredients for the BBQ Meal (Fermented Korean soybean paste - doenjang and Korean red pepepr paste - gochujang) Sides and Accompaniments Green Onion Salad (following the referenced recipe) Doenjang and gochujang dipping sauce (following the referenced recipe) Raw Sliced Garlic Raw Hot Peppers (no long green hot pepper in the market – so I used serranos) Thin Sliced Carrots and Cucumber – the cucumber was peeled and salted whole. Let it sit to draw, and then squeeze to expel some of the moisture. Rinse well before slicing. We also grilled whole garlic toes and some of the peppers. Lettuce Wrappers (No red leaf lettuce at store, so hearts of romaine were adopted for the task. They worked well as we cut the grilled pork slices lengthwise at the table with the scissors for a perfect fit) Meat and Veggies on the Grill Big Joe was setup for direct cooking at 375 degrees using the cast iron grill grates with the wide face up. The lower heat allows a longer cook time compared to higher grill heats in order to render more fat and let the pork crisp up without overcooking. Turn frequently when doing this direct grill. One note of caution is that the fat coming from the pork belly will cause significant fire flare ups when opening the lid to tend the cook. My son and I decided that next time we would try an alternate technique to use the flexibility of the D&C system with one cast iron grill grate and one cast iron griddle plate to better manage the cook and the varied cooking rates of the meats and veggies. Not to say direct grilling did not work – it just needs a lot of attention and with a full load of meat and veggies it becomes a challenge to manage the different items. Plus the marinated meat needs extra attention to not burn. Big Joe had his grill full so the final step was a quick cook on the mushrooms separately after the meat was removed. A Plate Full of Grilled Goodness Headed for the Table (The garlic was put on skewers to facilitate grilling and so they did not just fall into the fire) Time to Eat and Socialize (Not shown is the steamed rice served at the end of the meal) So if you have not tried Korean style BBQ, get yourself some good pork belly and jump into this cultural experience. I guarantee you will not be disappointed even if you need to make substitutions in some areas. One note - hold true to the sauces and their ingredients for that Korean flavor element. Thanks for looking.