(ChiHon Kim)

Gochujang, or red pepper paste, is a staple in the kitchen of Koreans. It is not an exaggeration to say that it's hard to find a Korean dish without gochujang, from tteokbokki to dakbokkeumtang (raised spicy chicken).

It’s no surprise then that this spicy condiment has found its way into other dishes like Jeyukbokkeum, a spicy barbecued pork invented in the 1980s and found on most Korean restaurant menus today.

To make jeyukbokkeum, pork is usually marinated in a sauce made mainly with red pepper paste and some soy sauce and then cooked with vegetables. This recipe, however, cuts out the long marination process. In addition, I’ve reduced the amount of soy sauce and red pepper paste to some degree for those who are on a low salt diet like me or for those who avoid spicy foods.

This sweet and salty dish should be served up with rice and greens at the table, so don’t forget to cook some rice in advance and get some fresh leafy greens such as lettuce to make a ssam when you go grocery shopping.

“What is SSAM?” “Ssam” literally means “wrapping in something,” and Koreans love to wrap any kind of meat in leafy vegetables. Here's a quick manual to make a ssam. Place one or two pieces of lettuce in your palm. Put a piece of meat, a bit of ssamjang (Korean soybean paste), a piece of thinly sliced garlic (optional), and chili (optional), in the lettuce. You can also add some onion, other fillings or sauces, such as sesame oil. When you are ready to eat, open your mouth wide and go all-in-one to let the different flavors play magic in your mouth at the same time.

- PREP TIME: 10 mins - COOK TIME: 10 mins - TOTAL TIME: 15 mins - DIFFICULTY: Easy - SERVINGS: 2


  • 400g pork (blade shoulder or pork belly) cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 1/2 onion thinly sliced

  • 1 green onion cut into batons or 1-cm thick diagonal slices

  • 3 chilies thinly sliced diagonally into 0.5-cm thick pieces

  • 1 pinch of roasted sesame seeds


  • 1 tbsp thick soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp minced garlic

  • 1/2 tbsp red pepper paste

  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey or corn syrup

  • 1 tbsp chili powder

  • 1 tbsp rice wine (optional)

  • Black pepper

  • 2 tbsp water

  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil


• Choose cut of meat: While blade shoulder and arms shoulder are used often, for my recipe, I chose a pork belly (or samgyopsal). This cut is a little thicker and greasier than other cuts, but it has a great chewy texture.

1) Cut all veggies into bite-sized pieces and set them aside.

2) Cut the meat into 3 to 7 mm-thick slices and place them in a pan. I usually use pre-cut pork belly from the freezer section of a Korean grocery store.

3) Over medium heat, cook the meats until browned. Then turn off the stove and drain pork oil from the pan.

4) Over medium heat, add 2 tbsp water, veggies, and sauce (soy sauce, red pepper paste, chili powder, minced garlic, rice wine) into a pan.

5) Cook until the veggies are tender. Add the honey, black pepper, and sesame oil right after turn off the stove. Sauté them with residual heat for about 20-30 seconds more.

6) Sprinkle sesame seeds on it. Serve it with a bowl of rice and greens. Bon appetite or 잘 먹겠습니다! (Pronounced: jal meok-ke-sseum-nida)!

The best stories from the Pacific, in your inbox

Sign up for our weekly newsletter of articles from Japan, Korea, Guam, and Okinawa with travel tips, restaurant reviews, recipes, community and event news, and more.

Sign Up Now