1. Dapae Sang Pork Belly: thinly sliced pork belly (looks like bacon)
2. Sang Pork Belly: sliced pork belly
3. Grilled kimchi, bean sprouts and peppers
4. Kong namul: bean sprouts with sesame oil (typically served cold)
5. Shiguemchi namul: spinach or Korean watercress in sesame oil (typically served cold)
6. Baechu kimchi: fermented Napa cabbage with red chile pepper and seasoning (typically served cold)
7. Red pepper seafood salad (typically served cold)
8. Gyeran jjim: eggs steamed in a hot pot (served hot)
9. Ssamjang: composite red pepper-fermented Korean soy bean paste
10. Sesame oil sauce
11. Honey Pig special sauce
12. Sliced garlic/hot peppers
13. Shot of soju
14. Dengjang jigae: fermented soy bean soup with tofu, scallions and onions
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Korean barbecue, what about the banchan and the soups?
Banchan is the assorted side dishes that traditionally accompany the main course.
They are like appetizers, eaten as you wait for the barbecue to come out. At most Korean restaurants, the banchans change depending on the season or whatever the restaurant has available that day. Two to 12 banchan dishes may be served with every meal.
At Honey Pig, there are around a half dozen complimentary dishes, including: kong namul (marinated bean sprouts), shiguemchi namul (chilled spinach/watercress) and baechu kimchi (fermented cabbage).
Banchan that you can order include the pa jeon (fried scallion pancake), mandu (fried dumplings; vegetable- and meat-filled varieties available) or gyeran jjim (eggs steamed in a hot pot). Unlike other cuisines, you eat the banchan throughout the whole meal with the main course, so no dishes are taken away. That means that you already have at least six different dishes in front of you. Each banchan dish portion is small, so it is meant to be eaten in its entirety and replenished when needed.
It would truly be a disgrace to leave out the significance of kimchi in Korean culture and cuisine; it’s just that important and relevant!
Kimchi has a long history. It existed and was eaten way back in the seventh century during the Age of the Three Dynasties in Korea. During that time, it consisted primarily of pickled vegetables; red hot peppers were incorporated sometime during the 18th century, giving rise to the occasionally overpowering, spiced cabbage we know today. Most kimchi is fermented with the assistance of lactic acid at low temperatures (aids preservation) and can be eaten all season long.
The general ingredients in kimchi are all natural and include: Napa cabbage, radish, ginger, garlic, scallions, fermented baby shrimp, fish sauce and red peppers.
1. Spoon plain rice into an open lettuce leaf
2. Add a smidge of ssamjang (red pepper-fermented, Korean soy bean paste)
3. Remove the cooked-to-order protein of your choice from the grill, dip it in one of the two sesame oil seasonings (plain oil vs. Honey Pig’s special sauce) and place atop the rice
4. Add sliced garlic or hot peppers (to taste)
5. Fold sides of the lettuce leaf completely over into a self-contained wrap and take a bite.
6. Chase with a shot of soju
*Note: Everything is optional; some Koreans don’t even put rice in their lettuce wrap.
Kimchi is the ultimate banchan in Korean cuisine. It is so crucial, in fact, that you can order it to be grilled along with the meats on the menu!
I like my kimchi in any shape or form. I love it: mixed in with noodles. Tucked into a pancake. Sprinkled over stews and soups. Ground and packed into dumplings. Grilled solo. Served fresh. Or fermented—it really just depends on the season. Specialty kimchis to keep an eye out for include: stuffed cucumber kimchi, radish kimchi and scallion/leek kimchi.
Not feeling particularly barbecue-y?
Honey Pig also dabbles in traditional Korean soups. Doenjang chigae is made with the fermented soy bean paste, tofu and mixed vegetables. It is eaten with rice and banchan. Kimchi chigae, you guessed it, is made from kimchi. It is usually made from a pork broth with tofu and whatever kimchi is available.
Just remember to keep your soup bowl positioned to the right of your rice bowl so as not to upset any wayward Korean spirits. (According to my mother, Korean lore dictates setting a soup bowl to the left of the rice bowl in honor of the dearly departed. But why would you set a place for someone who is dead, anyway?).