Sam-gyup-sal, or pork belly, is a very common main dish here in Korea. While pork belly is often used to make bacon, Koreans usually prefer to cook it fresh over an open flame and then add all sorts of wonderful and tasty accompaniments to it.
At restaurants we usually all sit around the cooking pit and enjoy the meat as it comes fresh off the grill! You can see my post about Brother Meat House for an example of real sam-gyup-sal.
As we usually expect the Sam-gyup-sal to be meat, I was very surprised when I found a jelly candy at the local store that looks SO similar to the pork belly!
Now, I couldn’t take the pork belly jelly to the restaurant to cook it, so I had to “prepare” it at home like I would a normal dinner of pork belly!
There are a number of electric grills that you can buy here in Korea for cooking meat or other dishes at home, but as we don’t eat too much meat at home, we just use a cast iron frying pan for cooking our sam-gyup-sal.
After we take the sam-gyup-sal out of the package, we layer it in strips on the pan, and wait for the meat to cook enough on one side so we can flip it.
Next, we cut the meat up into bite sized pieces. This makes it easier to eat with chopsticks, but also makes it easier to wrap in lettuce or other greens, which is one of the preferred ways to eat sam-gyup-sal.
Finally, we put it on a tray, or if we are in a restaurant you can take it right off the grill!
There are many different types of things we can eat sam-gyup-sal with. As I mentioned, we wrap it in different types of lettuce, or perilla leaves. Then we can add a piece of garlic, spicy soybean paste (Ssam-jang), rice, mushrooms, onions, or whatever your heart desires. We also often use salted sesame oil to flavor the meat after cooking.
Now of course, all these pictures are of the sam-gyup-sal jelly, except for the first real meat picture. I can’t imagine the jelly would taste as good with the traditional accompaniments!
The jelly itself is very sweet, as is to be expected. The white stripes in the jelly candy taste similar to vanilla to me. The red stripes taste like a blend between strawberry and apple flavors. The texture is similar to many other jelly candies that I’ve had before.
One difference with this sam-gyup-sal jelly is that it is VERY sticky! A lot of other jelly candies, such as Haribo, are not very sticky, but this was SO hard to peel off the packaging!
When eaten together, the two flavors blend well and creates a nice snack. I think that the price, which is almost 4,000 won, might be off putting to some people. As a novelty snack I think the sam-gyup-sal jelly candy is great, but if you are just interested in some jelly candy, there might be some more affordable options for you.