Ever since arriving on Jeju Island a few months back, it’s been really great experimenting with local ingredients and getting to sample all the different kinds of local food (jeonbok (abalone), hwe (raw fish), and new seaweed species to name a few). But by far, the most notable ingredient that I’ve been eating and using in the kitchen is the famed Jeju black pig (“heuk-dweji” 흑돼지). I’ve done quite a few dishes with it so far, and I must admit it gets better with each new attempt. For today’s recipe, I decided to make jeyuk bokkeum (spicy stir-fried pork), one of my all-time favorite dishes because it’s mostly protein and it’s relatively easy to make.
For those who are unfamiliar with this dish, jeyuk bokkeum (literally meaning “pork stir-fry”) is a very popular BBQ-type meal (think bulgogi without any spiciness) that’s a big hit with kids and adults alike. Thinly sliced pork is marinated in a spicy gochujang-based sauce but comes out tasting quite sweet n savory after a quick stir fry. Pork belly and shoulder are the more common cuts used for this dish, but I did some experimenting by using some Jeju pork tenderloin that I found at the grocery store. Although it didn’t turn out as well as its pork belly counterpart (extra fat adds tons more flavor and depth), it was still good enough for seconds and a hit with my taste testers. As with most BBQ dishes, this was served with rice, banchan (side dishes), and plenty of lettuce varieties like perilla leaves, napa cabbage, and leafy greens. These leaves are used as wraps (aka “ssam” 쌈), which are then filled with the accompanying meat, thinly sliced raw garlic, and ssamjang (dipping sauce). If you have yet to try this lesser known BBQ dish, give it a try in the comfort of your home.
“If I had to narrow my choice of meats down to one for the rest of my life, I am quite certain that meat would be pork.” ~ James Beard
- 2 lbs pork belly (shoulder or loin work just as well), cut thinly
- 1 medium onion, cut into strips
- ½ carrot, cut into strips
- 1 green & red chili pepper, diced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp gochujang (red pepper paste)
- 2 tbsp gochugaru (red pepper flakes; optional for extra heat)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3, 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp rice wine (or Mirin)
- dash of salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp of grated apple and onions (optional but recommended)
- toasted sesame seeds (garnish)
- Cut pork into thin slices (similar to bulgogi) or according to personal preference.
- In a large bowl, bring together the sauce ingredients (the last 9 items on the list) and then add the meat and vegetables. Mix well by hand until thoroughly coated.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate for at least an hour, although overnight marination is recommended.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan on high heat and add about 1 tbsp of oil. Cook all the prepared ingredients together without overcrowding the pan. Cook until browned and slightly caramelized.
- Serve with rice, lettuce varieties (e.g. red and green leaf, perilla leaves, parboiled cabbage), and ssamjang (dipping sauce).
Note to readers: All recipes, or more specifically seasoning and spice measurements, contained in MYKOREANEATS are approximations. Growing up in an old-school Korean kitchen where everything was measured by hand, there was a strict but important rule called “son-maat” (손맛), literally meaning “taste from one’s hand.” My mom would swear by this and always cooked all the dishes using her raw, culinary instinct to provide comfort food at its finest. This concept of “son-maat” is pretty important in Korean cooking, so I’ve always wanted to keep that tradition alive despite starting the blog a few years back. Another aspect that I love about “son-maat” is the idea of putting one’s signature or stamp on a dish. What makes your food taste like yours, not like anyone else’s, is literally and figuratively the “taste of one’s hands.” As a side note, most Korean dishes like stews, stir fries, and banchan (side dishes) are cooked to taste, meaning that the addition of extra spices is, more often than not, added during the cooking process itself. In that sense, don’t fuss and worry about exact measurements, but rather focus on developing your own “son-maat.”