Why It Works
- The spicy gochujang-based marinade has just enough background sweetness to keep everything in balance for this Korean barbecue favorite.
- While leaner cuts of pork can be used for this dish, using fatty pork shoulder or pork belly ensures that the meat won't dry out during cooking.
Dwaeji bulgogi (sometimes rendered daeji bulgogi) is Korean barbecue at its best, marrying the floral spiciness of gochujang and gochugaru with juicy, fatty pork charred on a hot grill. Give the burgers and dogs a weekend off, and turn your next cookout into a Korean barbecue feast. For more information about many of the ingredients used in this recipe, check out our guide to the Korean pantry.
- For the Dwaeji Bulgogi:
- 1 medium onion (about 7 ounces; 200g), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 Asian pear (about 6 ounces; 170g), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
- 3 scallions (60g), white and green parts divided, white parts cut into 1/4-inch pieces, green parts thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves (25g)
- 1-inch piece (1/2 ounce; 14g) fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 cup (240ml; 240g) gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 1/4 cup (25g) fine ground gochugaru (Korean chili powder)
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) Korean rice syrup (see note)
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) mirin
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon (6g) freshly ground black pepper
- 3 lb (1.3kg) pork shoulder or belly, cut into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (see note)
- For Serving:
- 2 tablespoons (12g) toasted white sesame seeds
- Ssamjang (Korean barbecue dipping sauce)
- Lettuce and perilla leaves, steamed rice, thinly sliced garlic, chilies, and scallions, and assorted banchan
For the Dwaeji Bulgogi: Combine onion, Asian pear, scallion whites, garlic, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor and process to a coarse purée, scraping down sides of food processor bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and whisk together with gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, rice syrup, mirin, sesame oil, and black pepper.
Place pork in a gallon zipper-lock bag or large baking dish, and pour marinade over the meat. Toss to evenly distribute the marinade, then seal bag, removing as much air as possible (if using baking dish, wrap tightly with plastic wrap). Transfer pork to refrigerator, and marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, place wire rack on top of grill grate over the coals, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the wire rack set over the grill grate.
Grill pork directly over the hot side of the grill. If using a charcoal grill, leave uncovered; if using a gas grill, cover. Cook, turning occasionally, until pork is cooked through and lightly charred on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes total. Transfer to a serving platter.
For Serving: Sprinkle pork with sesame seeds and serve immediately, passing sliced scallion greens, ssamjang, lettuces, garnishes, and banchan at the table.
Bosc pear or apple can be substituted for Asian pear.
Honey or corn syrup can be substituted for Korean rice syrup.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The grilled pork is best enjoyed immediately. The marinade can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days. The pork can be marinated for up to 24 hours.