Korean BBQ has always been a crowd favorite, with its rich flavors, tender meats, and flavorful side dishes that are perfect for get-togethers with family and friends. One thing that sets the experience apart is the variety of dipping sauces that various regions in Korea offer.
These dipping sauces are essential for enhancing the taste and texture of grilled meats. While there are countless options to choose from, we're here to help you learn more about the must-try Korean dipping sauces for your next BBQ feast.
Each sauce has a distinct taste profile, offering a balance of heat, sweetness, and savory richness that complements the smoky char of the grilled meats perfectly. Get ready to explore a whole new dimension of Korean BBQ by giving these tasty sauces a go.
Here’s a handful of must-try Korean sauces that offer a unique taste profile, balancing heat, sweetness, and savory richness that complement the smoky char of the grilled meats perfectly.
- Popular Korean BBQ Dishes
- Beef Dishes
- Pork Dishes
- Chicken Dishes
- 5 Essential Korean BBQ Sauces
- Storing Homemade Korean Sauces
Popular Korean BBQ Dishes
When you think of Korean BBQ, flavorful marinated meats grilled to perfection and served with an array of tasty sauces come to mind. Here are some popular Korean BBQ dishes that you'll definitely want to try.
This classic dish features thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet and savory sauce made of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. The beef is then grilled, often with onions and mushrooms, and served with rice and lettuce wraps.
Enjoy bulgogi by wrapping a piece of meat and some vegetables in a lettuce leaf, and don't forget to add your favorite Korean BBQ dipping sauce for an extra burst of flavor.
Also known as LA galbi, this dish features Korean BBQ short ribs marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, onion, garlic, and sesame oil. The ribs are then grilled until tender and caramelized on the outside. You can also find non-beef versions, such as chicken and pork galbi.
Samgyeopsal is a commonly favored meal that requires the grilling of thick, fresh pork belly slices on a tabletop grill, and it was actually my first ever Korean barbeque experience when I first moved to rural Korea.
While it's not marinated like other Korean BBQ meats, you can still enjoy it in a lettuce wrap with your choice of dipping sauces and sides.
This spicy pork BBQ dish comes in the form of stir-fried pork marinated in a spicy chili pepper paste (gochujang) sauce. It's often served with rice, lettuce wraps, and various side dishes.
Crispy KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)
Crispy KFC, or Korean Fried Chicken, is a popular dish in Korea that has gained worldwide recognition for its unique flavors and crispy texture. In Korea, fried chicken is often ordered as either boneless, all wing & drumsticks, or most commonly, as a whole chicken (including the neck!).
5 Essential Korean BBQ Sauces
1. Soy Sauce-Based Sauce
A simple yet flavorful condiment, a soy sauce-based sauce is an essential component of many Korean BBQ meals. For a tangy dipping sauce, try a soy sauce mixture. Prepare it by combining soy sauce, sugar, oil, vinegar, and water.
Start by whisking the liquids in a saucepan and bringing them to a boil. Next, mix cornstarch with water to create a slurry, add it to the boiling sauce, and reduce the heat. Cook until it thickens and serve with your choice of meat or vegetables.
2. Gochujang-Based Sauce
For those who enjoy some heat, a gochujang-based sauce is a must-try. This spicy, sweet sauce combines gochujang with ingredients like honey, garlic, and soy sauce. The result is a well-balanced flavor that compliments the smokiness of Korean BBQ.
You can customize the sauce to your preference by adjusting the level of gochujang for more or less heat. To make a gochujang BBQ sauce, you'll need gochujang (Korean red chili paste), soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, and sesame oil.
Optionally, you can also add bacon for an extra layer of flavor. Begin by cooking the bacon (if using) in a skillet. Then, combine the other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust the taste according to your preference.
3. Kyeoja (Mustard Vinegar Sauce)
Kyeoja, best described as mustard vinegar sauce, offers a tangy and refreshing flavor that pairs well with grilled meats. This simple sauce is made by combining Korean mustard powder, vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
The tanginess of kyeoja helps to cut through the richness of marinated meats, providing the perfect balance of flavors.
One of the most popular Korean BBQ sauces is ssamjang. This sauce adds a rich, umami flavor to your barbecued meats, and is typically enjoyed as part of the lettuce wraps known as ssam. Just spread a bit of ssamjang onto a lettuce leaf, add your grilled meat, and wrap it all up for a delicious bite.
To make this delicious sauce, you'll need soybean paste (doenjang), gochujang, minced garlic, sesame oil, green onions, and optionally, honey or sugar for sweetness. Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl, adjusting the balance between saltiness, heat, and sweetness to your liking.
5. Sesame Oil Dipping Sauce
Finally, a sesame oil dipping sauce is another essential Korean BBQ sauce. This straightforward dipping sauce is made by blending sesame oil, salt, and pepper. A sesame oil dipping sauce is perfect for those who prefer a simple yet flavorful condiment.
The nutty flavor of the sesame oil enhances the taste of your grilled meats without overpowering them, especially when using a toasted sesame oil.
Storing Homemade Korean Sauces
When you've made some delicious homemade Korean sauces for your BBQ, it's essential to store them properly to maintain their flavors and freshness, especially if you make them in large batches for regular enjoyment.
First, make sure to allow your sauces to cool down completely after being cooked, especially if they were prepared in a saucepan. Waiting for the sauces to reach room temperature before storing them helps prevent the growth of bacteria.
Once the sauces have cooled down, transfer them to an airtight container, like a glass jar or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Using an airtight container is crucial for preserving the flavors and preventing any odors from the refrigerator from affecting your sauce.
For homemade Korean BBQ sauces, storing them in the refrigerator is ideal. Most homemade BBQ sauces can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator, as long as they are tightly sealed.
Dressings with a vinegar or oil base can sometimes last up to a month, but it is essential to keep an eye on any changes in odor, color, or consistency to determine when they are no longer safe to consume.