Home Lifestyle and Culinary Tips Korean Barbecue 101: Different Types of Korean Pork Cuts

Korean Barbecue 101: Different Types of Korean Pork Cuts

by Emily
Korean Pork Cuts

Today we are going to learn more about Korean barbecue. Let’s learn all about different types of Korean pork cuts!

The most famous food coming out of South Korea is undoubtedly the barbecue. Cooked in front of you, Korean barbecue is as much about the social interactions and experience as it is about the flavors (which is just SO darn delicious by the way). 

When eating Korean barbecue, you are not experiencing a single type of food. Instead, you are experiencing an expansive and endless list of possible cuts/types of meat, side dishes, stews, noodle dishes, and more. I could talk indefinitely about the different dishes available at Korean barbecue!

Because this list is so extensive, it is difficult to narrow down all the information into a single comprehensive blog post. Instead, we are breaking it down into different subsections for the readers! 

For our first Korean Barbecue 101 post, we will be looking into the different cuts of pork available in Korea when eating out at a restaurant. 

Before getting into the different pork cuts, let’s talk a little about barbecue and pork in South Korea.

Why Is Pork Popular in Korea?

Korean Pork Cuts: Samgyeopsal
Korean Baked Samgyeopsal with Doenjang Jjigae

Though not nearly as much as Americans do, Koreans eat A LOT of meat. Of all the meat options, pork is the most consumed and popular. Actually, South Korea is one of the highest pork-consuming countries in the world. Reasons for this include:

  • First, pork has historically been more affordable than other options such as beef. The government apparently pushed for this in the 1970s, leading pork to become the most consumed meat in Korea. You can read a further, in-depth history of pork in Korea here
  • Secondly, Koreans socialize while eating our and grilling pork (specifically pork belly). Many do not sit around eating pork belly alone at home. It is a shared food experience amongst friends, family, and co-workers.
  • Finally, pork goes well with the Korean flavors. The marriage of kimchi with steamed/grilled pork belly is perfect. It is breathtakingly good. 

Eating Barbecue at Restaurants in Korea:

When eating out at barbecue joints in Korea, you cannot expect to see all of the different cuts of pork at every restaurant. That is typically not how it works. 

Instead, every restaurant will always have the most basic and popular cuts: moksal (Boston butt) and samgyeopsal (pork belly). Beyond that, restaurants will have a specialization of a particular cut of meat. For example, if you want galbi (front pork rib), you go to a Korean galbi joint. 

The only real deviation of this is when you go to a restaurant attached to a butcher shop. These comprehensive shops sell something called “Dwaeji hanmari,” which translates/means “one pig,” aka entire pork. In other words, you will receive a sampler of all the different types of pork available at the shop. 

So, when picking your restaurant, figure out which cuts you want to eat first and then plan accordingly. Otherwise, try pleasantly surprising yourself by randomly picking a Korean barbecue restaurant! 

Grilling Samgyeopsal and Beef
Grilling Samgyeopsal and Beef

Modern Trend in the Korean Pork Restaurants:

Recently, “duitgogi” is trending in Korean barbecue restaurants. “Duitgogi” translates into “behind meat.” It refers to really, really small Korean cuts that butchers traditionally only had access to. 

Restaurants then marketed these different cuts as the best, rarest, and most special because these are the cuts butchers kept for themselves. Examples of these pork cuts include the bolsal (cheek), teokmitsal (jaw), hyeosal (tongue), etc. Like I said above, different restaurants specialize in these cuts by making their cooking techniques and flavors unique and delicious. 

Basically, marketing has made these cuts special so that the restaurants can stand out! 

Now, Let’s Get Into The Different Pork Cuts!

Below is a comprehensive list of the different pork cuts in Korea. Later on, we will get into further details about cooking techniques and flavors. For now, the list includes:

  • The main section of the pig.
  • The cut in Korean.
  • The cost of the cut at restaurants in Korea.
  • The equivalent cut made in the USA.
  • The use of the cuts in Korean food.

Also, I placed an asterisk next to all the pork cuts typically used in barbecue.

What are the Different Cuts Of Korean Pork?

Head Section

*Bolsal 볼살 ($) 

Bolsal is the pig’s cheek. Typically, bolsal is a specialty meat available at duitgogi restaurants. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue.

*Hyeosal 혀살 ($) 

Hyeosal is the pig’s tongue. Typically, hyeosal is a specialty meat available at duitgogi restaurants. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue.

*Teokmidsal 턱밑살 ($) 

Teokmidsal is the pig’s jaw. Typically, Teokmidsal is a specialty meat available at duitgogi restaurants. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue.

Boston Butt Section 

*Moksal 목살 ($$$) 

Moksal is equivalent to the Boston butt in America aka the neck meat. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue, Marinated Barbecue, and Boiled Meat. 

*Galbi 갈비 ($$)

Galbi is the front rib section (with bones). 

Korean Pork Cooking Techniques: Korean Grilled Barbecue and Marinated Meat. 

*Galbisal 갈비살 ($$$)

Galbisal is the boneless rib meat. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue, Braised Meat, and Boiled Meat. 

Picnic, Pork Shoulder Section

*Apdarisal/Jeonji 앞다리살/전지 ($)

Apdarisal is the boneless picnic shoulder. It is often sold at cheaper barbecue locations targeting students. The reason for this is that it tastes similar to samgyeopsal but is less fatty. The lack of fat makes the meat tougher, thus also cheaper. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue, Protein in Fried Rice and Stew.

Apsahtaesal 앞사태살 ($)

Apsahtaesal is the lower shoulder/upper leg section of pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Protein in Stew and Jangjorim (Braised Pulled Pork).

*Hangjeongsal 항정살 ($$$$)

Hangjeongsal is the pork jowl (front part of the neck). This is a rare, tiny part of the meat known for its marbling. Interestingly, you can feel the grain in this meat. Koreans use the word asak-asak (아삭 아삭) to describe the crunchy, fresh, and grainy texture in a positive way. Unfortunately, I do not think there is an English equivalent to describe that feeling. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue. 

Loin Section

Deungshimsal 등심살 ($)

Deungshimsal is the boneless loin section of pork. This cut is not popular in Korea for grilling. Koreans prefer the fatter sections of meat which is opposite of western countries. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Used in Japanese Restaurants for Katsu and Korean Tangsuyuk 탕수육 (Fried Sweet and Sour Pork).

Aldeungshimsal 알등심살 ($)

Aldeungshimsal is the center loin section of pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Tangsuyuk 탕수육 (Fried Sweet and Sour Pork).

Deungshimdutsal 등심덧살 ($$$) 

Deungshimdutsal is the top loin of pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Tangsuyuk 탕수육 (Fried Sweet and Sour Pork).

Tenderloin Section

Ahnshimsal 안심살 ($$)

Ahnshimsal is the tenderloin of the pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Used in Japanese Restaurants for Katsu and For Korean Braised Meat.

Belly Section

*Samgyeopsal 삼겹살 ($$)

Samgyeopsal is the pork belly. This is the most famous cut of pork for Korean barbecue. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue, Steamed Meat, Boiled Meat. (Also used as the protein for fried rice, stews, etc.) 

*Galmaeggisal 갈매기살 ($$$$)

Galmaeggisal is the diaphragm (closest part to the heart). This is an extremely famous and tender section of the pork. Very small in size, it must be carefully removed from the section near the heart. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue.

Deunggalbisal 등갈비살 ($$)

Deunggalbisal is the baby back ribs of the pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Braised Ribs. 

*Tosisal 토시살 ($)

Tosisal is the hanging tender of pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue (typically eaten alongside with galmaeggisal.)

Leg, Ham Section 

Bolggisal 볼기살 ($) 

Bolggisal is the top round (butt end) of pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Made into Patties and Braised Pulled Pork. 

Seolkitsal 설깃살 ($) 

Seolkitsal is the ham center cut. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Soup/Stew Starter and Korean Tangsuyuk 탕수육 (Fried Sweet and Sour Pork).

Doganisal 도가니살 ($)

Doganisal is the center ham (loin) section of pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Soup/Stew Starter and Korean Tangsuyuk 탕수육 (Fried Sweet and Sour Pork).

*Hongdukkaesal 홍두깨살 ($) 

Hongdukkaesal is the center ham section closest to the tail. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Korean Grilled Barbecue.

Boseopsal 보섭살 ($)

Boseopsal is the rump of pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Braised Meat and Bulgogi. 

Dwitsahtaesal 뒷사태살 ($)

Dwitsahtaesal is the shank (leg) of pork.

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Boiled Meat.

Hock Section

Jokbal 족발 ($) 

Jokbal is the calf and hock of the pork. 

Korean Pork Cooking Technique: Braised Meat.

Further Reading About Korean Barbecue:

We have other blog posts available about Korean food and Barbecue that you might want to check out: 

Doenjang Jjigae (Often Served With Korean Barbecue)
Doenjang Jjigae (Often Served With Korean Barbecue)

Let Us Know About Your Favorite Cuts of Pork and How You Like To Cook With It!

Let us know if you have any questions regarding all the different cuts of pork! In the end, how do you like your meat cooked? We would love to hear your opinions! You can send us a note via our contact us page or email us at carvingajourney@gmail.com!

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