Much like the all-American version of BBQ, Korean BBQ or KBBQ also shares a passion for family and friends getting together to enjoy great grilled food. Unlike the typical American grill, KBBQ is slightly different and is often the center of the entertainment with everyone enjoying the ambiance and immersive experience that follows. Here’s why:
What is so different about Korean BBQ?
If you’re new to Korean food and have never experienced a Korean BBQ before, then you’re in for something very special. The setup is unlike anything you’ve seen before and will be more intimate and immersive than regular grill parties you’ve seen before. Not to sound cliché but if you’ve experienced hot oil fondue and Hibachi grills, you’re in the ballpark. In fact, KBBQ does share some similarities with Teppanyaki grilling.
Teppanyaki is a Japanese iron grill where food is prepared for guests and has roots that are traced back to Korea. This type of grilling is called Yakiniku which is essentially grilling meat at a table whereas Teppanyaki is cooking a meal on a flat iron grill with guests sitting in front of the grill itself. A good example is the Benihana-style eating experience. But rest assured, KBBQ offers many choices for side dishes and dipping sauces that go with your grilled meat.
What is Galbi and Bulgogi?
When it comes to meat, there are basically two categories for KBBQ.
Galbi is one that also has a different spelling which is spelled Kalbi. This is always beef short ribs that are grilled or boiled but never fried.
Then there is Bulgogi, which are thin slices of beef or pork that are stir-fried or cooked on a griddle or grill. It’s also not limited to only beef or pork and can also include chicken, duck, and even seafood!
All of these are marinated before they are cooked, but not as a solid rule since the sauces that are prepared will give you an extra flavor bonus. Whenever Bulgogi is being cooked, you’ll often have cooking tongs and kitchen scissors. If you haven’t heard, scissors are very handy to snip the ends off sizzling meat to check it for how it’s cooking. It also allows these pieces to cook some more on the grill so they can get more crispy.
This is one aspect of KBBQ that you won’t see anywhere else and gives guests at your table tasty bites to enjoy while the meats are cooking.
Why marinades are vital for KBBQ?
One of the hallmarks of Korean BBQ is that you must understand that flavor and spices are all part of the game. You’ll never hear about how great it was to eat vegetarian KBBQ because nobody out of their right mind is doing that. Meat lovers of all kinds will enjoy KBBQ because it celebrates meat with marinades and sauces. It’s also important to marinade certain cuts of meat to bring out and compliment the flavor of that meat.
It’s funny how vegetarians are never raving about how great tofu and seitan taste, no matter what type of sauce or flavor they add to these meatless substitutes.
If you like how marinades help make the meat even more delicious, you’ll love getting invited to a Korean BBQ. Yet when it comes to making KBBQ at home, you’ll want to know what else to include? Here are some excellent suggestions.
5 Essentials for Korean BBQ
1.Choice of meats
Remember that meat is the name of the game for any serious KBBQ. You can choose any kind of short rib for your Galbi. When it comes to Bulgogi, get creative with ribeye, sirloin, and brisket. Remember to have these sliced thin which you can have your butcher do for you or cut yourself at home. Pieces can be as thick or thin as you like, and at times can be as thick as hanger steaks.
As long as your grill doesn’t let it fall through the grates, you’re in business. Just like the King of Pop’ used to sing, You are not alone’, you can join together many other varieties of favorite meats including pork, chicken, duck, and even seafood and shellfish.
2. Choice of veggies
If there is one rule of Korean BBQ that you’ll find mind-blowing is the taste bud additions that need to include Kimchi (a spicy fermented cabbage), jalapenos, spicy pickles, raw garlic, scallion salad, and spinach, mung bean, and cucumber salad. These are all added to help cleanse your palate and add more spice to your meal. These sides are adding just the right amount of crunch and crispy zing that Korean BBQ is all about.
Many of these don’t need to be over-the-top spicy hot but should reflect your ability to encounter full flavors that you normally don’t get every day.
3. Choose your grill
To start with, you need to have a grill that is big enough to cook everything you need near or on your tabletop. This is why cooking on a standard BBQ grill may not be so convenient inside. You can also opt to use an electric tabletop Hibachi. To get the real BBQ flavors, you’ll want to use the charcoal outdoor version. But to have the best experience, you need to find any kind of grill for indoor cooking that rests on the center of your table.
This gives your guests a closer experience where everyone is sitting around enjoying great food and sharing different cuts of meat and flavors.
4. Cooking accessories
Aside from prepping your meats in various marinades, your cooking utensils are surprisingly simple. You only need a pair of cooking tongs and a reliable set of kitchen scissors. With one hand you can flip thinly sliced meat and with the other, snip off sections to crisp. This way you can snip several pieces so everyone can try something different. This is why you want to offer many types of marinades and a generous variety of veggie sides.
5. Dipping sauces
Most of the American BBQs include one or two BBQ sauces, but with KBBQ, you’ll have no less than 6 different kinds. All of these sauces will be different and luckily you’ll find many of them listed on our sauce page. There is no shame in looking up new recipes on Google that offer quick and easy Korean BBQ dipping sauces you can make the night before your grill party. Keep in mind that you need to have plenty of them to offer, so variety is the key.