Samgyeopsal (삼겹살; Korean pronunciation: [samɡjʌp̚sal]) is a popular Korean dish. Commonly served as an evening meal, it consists of thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat (similar to uncured bacon). The meat, usually neither marinated nor seasoned, is cooked on a grill at the diners' table. Usually diners grill the meat themselves and eat directly from a grill.
The literal meaning of the word is "three (sam; 삼) layered (gyeop; 겹) flesh (sal;살)," referring to the ostensible three layers that are visible in the meat. One can also find ogyeopsal (오겹살), with o meaning "five".
Popularity in Korea
Samgyeopsal is one of the most expensive parts of pork even though the price of pork in South Korea changes continuously. The high popularity of Samgyeopsal makes it expensive in South Korea. Thus, South Korea imports wholesale Samgyeopsal from Belgium, Netherlands and other countries for the purpose of price stabilization because imported Samgyeopsal is much cheaper than domestic. Also, the South Korean government is planning to import 70000t of Samgyeopsal with no tariff in the second half year of 2011. Thus, importation of Samgyeopsal is expected to expand.
Samgyeopsal is popularly consumed both at restaurants and at home, and also used as an ingredient for other Korean dishes, such as kimchi jjigae.
According to a 2006 survey by Agricultural Cooperatives in Korea (농업협동조합), 85% of South Korean adults surveyed stated their favorite pork is samgyeopsal. The survey also showed 70% of recipients eat the meat at least once a week.
The most common accompaniments for samgyeopsal are lettuce (sangchu; 상추) and sliced raw garlic, but very often the meat is served with other accompaniments, such as perilla leaves (kkaennip; 깻잎), sliced green chili peppers, shredded green onions, sliced raw onions, and aged kimchi (mugeunji; 묵은지). Garlic, onions, and kimchi can be either grilled with the meat or consumed raw with the cooked meat.
Samgyeopsal is almost always served with at least two kinds of dipping sauces. One is ssamjang (쌈장), a paste consisting of chili paste (gochujang; 고추장), soybean paste (doenjang; 된장), sesame oil (참기름), and other ingredients; the other is gireumjang (기름장), made with salt and sesame oil, sometimes also with a small amount of black pepper. Usually ssamjang is used when a diner eats samgyeopsal with vegetable accompaniments, and gireumjang when a diner wants to taste the cooked meat itself.
Prior to consumption, the large slice of the pork belly is cut into smaller pieces with scissors. A common way to consume samgyeopsal is to place a slice of the cooked meat on a leaf of lettuce or a perilla leaf or both, with some cooked rice and ssamjang, and to roll it up in the leaf and eat it. It is usually called sangchu-ssam (상추쌈). Cooked rice and other foods wrapped in Korean lettuce can also be called sangchu-ssam. Any combination of the vegetable accompaniments mentioned above can be added to the roll according to preference, the most popular is sliced garlic. Many people also add in kimchi, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and grilled onions. Usually, different types of banchan are added. Part of the reason so many people enjoy this food is they can customize it to their liking.
Korean barbecue, or gogi gui literally "meat + roast", refers to the Korean method of grilling beef, pork, chicken, or other types of meat. Such dishes are often prepared at the diner's table on gas or charcoal grills that are built into the center of the table itself. Some Korean restaurants that do not have built-in grills provide portable stoves for diners to use at their tables.
The most typical form of Korean barbecue is galbi made from marinated beef short ribs.  However, Korean barbecue also includes many other kinds of marinated and non-marinated meat dishes, and can be divided into several categories.
Korean barbecue is not only popular among Korean consumers but has gained popularity internationally.
Fresh cut loins and boneless ribs
Marinated Korean barbecue
Galbi is the most popular variety of Korean barbecue. It is marinated in a sauce that may contain soy sauce, water, garlic, sugar, and sliced onions. It is believed to taste best when grilled with charcoal or soot (숯, burned wood chips). Joo mul luhk is short steak marinated with sesame oil, salt and pepper. It is almost similar to non-marinated Korean barbecue and one thing that distinguishes from other kinds is its steaklike juicy texture. Spicy pork daeji gogi is also a popular Korean barbecue dish and it is quite different from beef bulgogi because the marinade is not soy sauce-based, but instead consists of "gochujang" and/or "gochu garu" (Korean chili powder) based sauce.
Non-marinated Korean barbecue
Chadolbegi is a dish made from thinly sliced beef brisket, which is not marinated. It is so thin it cooks nearly instantly as soon as it is dropped onto a heated pan.
Samgyeopsal basically comprises thicker strips of unsalted bacon (pork belly). It has a lot of fatty areas and is tender. In Korea, samgyeopsal is eaten more frequently than chadolbegi due to the comparatively lower price of pork.
Also loins (deungshim, 등심) and boneless ribs (갈비살) are popular choice for non-marinated type of Korean barbecue.
Side dishes served with Korean barbecue
A side dish of Pajeori (파절이), green onion salad
Korean barbecue comes with various banchan (side dishes), among which, green onion salad called Pajori and a fresh vegetable dish including lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers invariably accompanies meat dishes at restaurants. A popular way of eating Korean barbecue is to wrap the meat with lettuce and add condiments such as - pajori (spicy scallion salad) and ssamjang (a spicy paste made of doenjang mixed with gochujang).