Dish of the Day: Samgyeop BBQ

Dish of the Day: Samgyeop BBQ

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Hungry for some grilled food to satisfy your cravings? Well, how about trying something grilled and unique? Because here comes the Samgyeop Barbecue (BBQ)!

What is Samgyeop BBQ?

In Korean cuisine, pork belly meat without the skin is known as samgyeop-sal (삼겹살), while pork belly meat with the skin on is known as ogyeop-sal (오겹살). The literal meaning of samgyeop-sal is “three-layered meat” as sam (; 三) means “three”, gyeop () means “layer”, and sal () means “flesh,” referring to what appears to be three layers of meat that are visible.

The word o (; 五) in ogyeop-sal means “five”, referring to the five-layered pork belly meat with the skin-on.  Slices of pork belly meat are usually grilled without marinating or seasoning. If marinated, it is usually done with garlic and served with bbq sauce.

History of Samgyeop BBQ

Samgyeopsal – grilled Korean pork belly – is not just food. It is an intriguing occurrence that encapsulates the emergence of South Korea’s industry from export-led globalisation in the 1970s–80s, through the 1997 financial crisis and post-crisis neoliberal, and leading up to the 21st-century economic stabilisation, which includes the early 2000s financial war and significant open trade arrangements in the 2010s. It is also a part of the history of South Korean working class that were involved throughout the times.

This explains why North Korea’s method of grilling pork isn’t as good as the South Korean’s. Pork belly is South Korea’s favourite and most eaten part of the pig. It was found that Samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) seems to be the primary reason why South Korea’s consumption of pork is mainly the pork belly. This is unexpected because the very concept of grilling food – which is what Samgyeopsal stands for – is a relatively new occurrence in South Korea. 

Indeed, until 1994, the term Samgyeopsal did not occur in Korean dictionaries. It is said that the custom of grilling pork meat came in the 1970s, from coal miners in Taebaek and Yeongwol Country in Gangwon Province who were offered meat vouchers as a portion of their labour reward.

An alternative theory speculates that females employees in Seoul’s mills popularised the practice of grilling pork belly at around the same time. South Korea imports wholesale pork belly from Belgium, the Netherlands, and other nations for price stabilisation as the price of imported pork is much lower than domestic pork.

Pork belly is eaten both at home and restaurants, grilled at Korean barbecue, or used as an essential ingredient for many Korean dishes such as bossam (cooked pig rolls) and kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew).

Consumption of Samgyeopsal BBQ

The correlation between South Korea and pork is obviously different from that of other developed countries. The primary considerations behind Samgyeopsal’s popularity were the industrialization and internationalization of the South Korean economy.

Mass production of pork in South Korea started in the 1970s and extended through the 1980s and 1990s. Low-fat pig components such as tenderloin and sirloin were mainly shipped; elevated fat pork belly was not in demand in overseas economies and was generally used for domestic consumption.

Interestingly, this trend continues until today and has escalated considerably despite the current rise of South Korean customers’ affluence. This unique South Korean and working-class dish of the 1970s is now trending globally as Korean barbeque shops have expanded and grown around the globe. Multiple videos of the dish have been greatly popular on the internet.

Where to find Samgyeop BBQ in Malaysia

Finding the perfect Samgyeop Bbq in Korean restaurants in Malaysia is not easy.  However, worry not, Shinmapo Korean Bbq (Subang Jaya) serves you Samgyeopsal Bbq with rice. Besides, Samgyeopsal Bbq Jeju Korean Restaurant is worth a try as well!

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Article Written By Mico Hu

Mico is a professional creative writer in Foodpanda. She writes about travel, fashion, and food. Also, she enjoy travelling to new places and also eating delicious food.

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