Korean Spicy Pork BBQ Lettuce Wraps (Dweji Bulgogi)
Many Korean BBQ restaurants in the states are served as all-you-can-eat where they allow the guest to cook their own food on table top grills. There are many different types of meat cuts you can choose from. Typically many places will have beef, chicken, or pork with some other special varieties. You can choose between marinated or non-marinated cuts. Some marinated cuts include bulgogi (thinly sliced beef in a soy sauce base sauce), daeji bulgogi (thin slices of pork marinated in a spicy sauce), galbi (beef or pork bbq short ribs), and dak galbi (spicy chicken.) Some non-marinated cuts include many different cuts of beef such as deungsim (sirlion), kkot deungsim (ribeye steak roll) or chadol baegi (thinly shaved brisket), and samgyeopsal (pork belly). Generally you would cook the non-marinated cuts first since they cook faster and won’t dirty up the grill as quickly and then move onto the marinated cuts.
One of the reasons why I enjoy Korean food is because of the various techniques and seasonings used for many different vegetables. If you’ve ever had Korean BBQ, you have probably noticed that it is served with many different types of side dishes which is called banchan. You can ask for them to be refilled as many times as you’d like for free! Banchan aren’t only served in Korean BBQ. They are integrated as an everyday part of Korean cuisine. These side dishes come in an assortment of options. They can range from many different types of kimchi, marinated, seasoned, steamed, or stir fry vegetables to seafood. My favorites are the napa cabbage and radish kimchi, cucumber salad, seasoned soybean sprouts, and steamed eggplant just to name a few.
Korean BBQ is often eaten as ssam which means to wrap. You basically place a few pieces of meat into any leafy vegetable such as lettuce or perilla leaves and add in various fillings then wrap it all together into a bundle. Ssamjang is often used as a sauce for wraps. It is a thick semi-sweet savory sauce with a bit of heat that packs an umami punch which is made of Korean fermented red pepper paste (gochujang) and fermented soybean paste (doenjang). My version is a bit different since the sauce usually doesn’t contain any soy sauce and I don’t use as much of the fermented soybean paste as the base since that is how my household prefers it. Sesame oil is also common to dip your wraps in. You can also add in rice to your wraps to make it more filling.
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs pork belly (thinly sliced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp onion (grated)
- 2 tsp ginger (grated)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
- 1 tbsp Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp Korean red pepper paste
- 1 tsp soybean paste (doenjang)
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp onion (minced)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1 head of lettuce
- 1 cucumber (cut into matchsticks)
- 6 garlic cloves (sliced)
- 3 scallions (cut into 2 in pieces)
- 2 jalapeno (sliced)
- Slice pork belly into thin slices about 1/4-1/3 inch thickness.
- Combine marinating ingredients in a bowl, add in sliced pork, mix to thoroughly coat; allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1-2 hours.
- For the ssamjang: combine Korean red pepper paste and soybean paste, add in soy sauce and mix to loosen the paste. Add in garlic and onions, mix again to combine.
- For the sesame oil, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Wash and remove lettuce from core and prepare veggies for assembly.
- In a pan on medium high heat, cook pork belly for about 2 minutes on each side in batches until charred and cooked through. Remove from heat; sprinkle on sesame seeds and scallions on cooked pork.
- Serve pork belly with piece of lettuce, add in a slice or two of cucumber, garlic, jalapeno, and scallions along with some kimchi. Dip or add in ssamjang or seasame oil to wraps.
- You could also substitute pork shoulder or pork lion.