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Korean barbecue is a great way to eat food full stop, but it works remarkably well if you need to feed a group of people. At Korean BBQ restaurants, everyone gathers around a grill in the middle of the table. Plates of raw meat and lots of side dishes—called banchan (bon-chon)—then everyone gets cooking.
But there’s no reason you can’t have the same experience at home. It’s pretty easy to prepare everything and you don’t need to worry about leaving your guests unattended as you all cook the food together!
Look, if you still don’t believe us, here’s a brief guide to Korean barbecuing at home.
A traditional Korean barbecue restaurant has a table with a charcoal grill in the centre plus big exhaust fans above the tables. An electric Korean BBQ grill for your home lets you easily create the experience around your table.
If charcoal is your jam can use a small Japanese binchotan, while a portable hot plate or grill with chairs and tables around it will also suffice. Use whatever you have access to, but there will be some smoke, so Make sure to keep the grate clean, use only thawed meat, and cook in a well-ventilated area. Oh and only use charcoal outside ideally.
The meat is the star of the show here. There’s all your favourites —beef, chicken, and pork— but bulgogi is the signature barbecue meat. It’s a marinated beef cut super thin. Ideally, you want to marinate your meat for at least a day beforehand, but you can buy pre-prepared meats from your local Asian supermarket.
Cheaper cuts are perfect for Korean barbecue. Because the meat is cut so thinly and cooks so fast, you want a little bit of fat running through it to stop it from drying out. And it adds extra flavour. Skirt steak and pork belly are 2 excellent examples.
You can eat the banchan (side dishes) by themselves, mix them into rice, or use them as fillings in lettuce wraps—it’s your barbecue, do it how you want! The key – like everything in life – is a balance. Have some sweet, salty, and sour options, and try to mix up your texture game as well.
Kimchi is the only non-negotiable. You don’t have to make your own though, kimchi is for sale everywhere. Grab it from your local supermarket or head to the health food shop if you want something a little more authentic.
One of our favourites is gochujang—a spicy chilli sauce. You use it just like sriracha and it’s just as easy to find. Make sure you’ve got some sesame oil to coat the meat in before you throw it on the grill.
If you’re super keen to whip up some dishes at home, try pickled radishes, Korean sweet potato salad and spring onion pancakes. They’re all easy to make, and they taste great by themselves or as toppings.
Now that you have your grill, meat, and side dishes, it’s time to party. Set up your grill at the center of your table, arrange your side dishes around it, and let everyone start cooking and eating together.
We reckon beer goes fantastically well with Korean barbecue, but tea isn’t too bad either!