If you have ever been to South Korea, you’ve most likely tried traditional pork belly. The meat is tender and not too spicy, and it’s a perfect part of a feast for guests or family gatherings.
With this recipe, you can bring all of the beautiful Korean pork belly flavors to your kitchen!
This recipe uses a cast-iron Dutch oven so that you can brown your meat and put it in the oven using only one dish.
Korean Pork Belly Recipe
Ingredients for the pork belly
- Scant 3/4 cup sliced ginger root (about 10 inches before slicing)
- 3 tablespoons Korean soybean paste (doenjang, see FAQs)
- 1 large onion, cut into quarters
- 4 scallions, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, mashed in a garlic press or finely diced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Korean chili paste (gochujang, see FAQs)
- 2 1/2 pounds pork belly, with the skin on (you want that tasty crackling!)
- Water (to cover half the meat)
Ingredients for the pickled radish
- 2 cups Korean white radish (peeled and sliced finely)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, or Korean apple vinegar (or rice vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground Szechuan chili peppers
- 1 clove garlic, mashed in a press or finely diced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Ingredients for the sauce
- 2 tablespoons Korean soybean paste (doenjang)
- 1 tablespoon Korean chili paste (gochujang)
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, mashed in a garlic press or finely diced
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- Steamed sweet rice
- Whole green or red leaf lettuce
- Perilla leaves (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Slice the pork belly into equal-sized chunks (about 20 pieces).
- Put the pork belly into your Dutch oven along with the remaining pork belly ingredients. Add sufficient water to cover half the height of the meat.
- Cook in the oven, covered, for one hour, then reduce the heat to 200 degrees F (93 degrees C). If your oven doesn’t go this low, use the lowest temperature possible.
- Leave it to cook for an additional 4-6 hours or till it’s nice and tender.
- While the meat is cooking, prepare the pickled radish by combining all ingredients in a bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate till ready to serve.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients in another bowl, and leave to one side (no need to refrigerate).
- When the meat is almost done, steam your rice (see below for how to do that).
- Prepare the lettuce and perilla leaves by washing and drying them. Share them evenly between each plate, forming a bed of leaves for each person.
- Once the meat is finished, take it from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before slicing it into bite-sized chunks.
- Serve your pork belly on top of the leaves with the rice on the side.
- Any leftover pork belly will keep for two to three months if you freeze it (make sure to use airtight freezer containers), or for up to five days in the refrigerator.
How to steam rice
Wash 1 cup of rice till the water runs clear. Drain and set to one side.
Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add a healthy pinch of salt, then the rice.
Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. Check and see if all the water has evaporated: if it has, the rice is done. If it hasn’t, let it simmer for a few more minutes till done.
Once done, remove from heat and serve immediately.
What is Korean soybean paste (doenjang)?
Korean soybean paste is made with fermented soybeans and brine. It is sometimes used as a relish and is a byproduct of soy sauce manufacturing.
You can find this paste in your local Asian grocery, or on Amazon.
What is Korean chili paste (gochujang)?
Korean chili paste is a spicy and slightly sweet red chili paste made from red chili pepper flakes, sticky rice (also known as glutinous rice), fermented soybeans, and salt.
As with Korean soybean paste, you can find Korean chili paste in Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.
You can find out more about common ingredients in Korean cuisine here.
Anything else I can use instead of pork belly?
You could try this recipe with beef short ribs, pork shoulder (as long as you cut the pork shoulder into smaller pieces first), or country-style pork ribs.
What else can I serve with pork belly?
Some tasty suggestions are:
- Walnut, chicory and apple salad
- Sautéed veggies, such as Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce
- Mashed potatoes with a hint of mustard
Enjoy your pork belly recipe!
Contributor – Barbara Fernandez
“Barbara Fernandez is a freelance health and lifestyle writer and voiceover artist. She writes about all aspects of health and fitness, wellness, and nutrition. She also voices narrations and podcasts: everything from a character voice giving math lessons to children to a friendly voice for SaaS instruction videos.”