Korean BBQ vs American BBQ: What’s the Difference
Barbecue is one of the most loved dishes around the world. Almost all countries have their own version of barbecue. Two of the most famous styles of barbecue is Korean BBQ and American BBQ.
American barbecue is known around the world simply because American influence has no bounds. Did you know that there are different styles of American barbecue?
American barbecue is regional – almost every state has its own version of it. In fact, a lot of people fight over who has the best barbecue taste and which one should be the king of barbecues in the U.S. There are four main styles of barbecue – Texas, Carolina, Memphis, and Kansas.
Texas barbecue is the most famous one and its meat is made from beef. The parts that it uses are the chest and shoulder. You will notice that Texas barbecue is thick because of the parts of the cow they use. Thus, cooking a Texas barbecue can take a long time. Another notable feature of this style of barbecue is the absence of sauces. Instead, a rub (mix of different spices and herbs) is used.
Carolina barbecue uses pork as its meat. Of all the barbecues in the U.S., Carolina has a very different style of cooking barbecue. They use the whole hog and the hog is put over a pit with fire. After it has been cooked, the meat is shredded or chopped.
Memphis-style barbecue, on the other hand, uses pork ribs. Most of the time, it is served dry with a helpful serving of sauce.
Lastly, Kansas-style barbecue is like a combination of all the three other popular barbecue recipes. Most people consider this style the best because it combines all the great traits of the different styles. Kansas barbecue uses pork ribs and beef brisket. The sauce is also thick like in Memphis but it is tomato-based.
Over in Asia, there’s another style of barbecue that is becoming popular in the region. It’s no other than Korean barbecue. Korean BBQ, or K-BBQ as a lot of people call it, uses both pork and beef cut in thin strips. They are cooked over a charcoal or gas grill.
In Korea, Korean BBQ is cooked right in front of the customers. In fact, the customers themselves are the ones who cook the beef and pork strips. It also has a number of flavors like teriyaki, spicy, and herb. Most of the strips are already marinated before they get served. The meat is also accompanied by different sauces.
The Rise of Korean Barbecue
What’s all the fuss about Korean barbecue? Whether you’re in the United States or in any other Asian country, a Korean barbecue restaurant is bound to be available in the city. Suddenly, there are a number of restaurants that offer unlimited Korean BBQ for a fixed price.
One of the main reasons why this barbecue style is becoming famous is due to the rising popularity of Korea in the global market. Not only are they being known for pop stars and pop icons, but their dramas are also being watched all over the world. Wherever you go, there is at least one Korean channel that features cooking shows, dramas, and game shows. In these shows, you will see friends eat around a grill with strips of raw pork and beef around it. Needless to say, people started wondering how good Korean barbecue is after seeing Koreans devour those meat strips like it was their last meal.
Korean Barbecue vs. American Barbecue
And now the showdown that a lot of people are waiting for – Korean barbecue vs American barbecue, which one is better? To be able to answer this question, three categories will be used – taste, side dishes, and experience.
What does Korean bbq taste like? If you’re still wondering, imagine thin strips of beef with a sweet marinade. As mentioned earlier, Korean barbecue has different flavors but at its very core, the meat itself is slightly sweet.
What makes Korean barbecue is not the meat per se, but the sauce that you dip it into. Usually, there are three different sauces that are served. The first one is the Korean chili paste or “gochujang”. It is spicy and has a thick texture. The second one is a simple sauce which is sesame oil with salt and pepper. Even though it just tastes like sesame, it perfectly complements the strong flavors of kimchi and herbed strips. The third sauce is sour soy sauce. Made with vinegar, soy sauce, and lemon juice, this sauce is best used for pancakes, fish cakes, and other Korean dishes.
For American barbecue, the taste is tangy and bold. If eaten alone, you might feel that the taste is overpowering which is why it is better eaten with side dishes. It also has a subtle smoky flavor that comes from all the grilling.
If you are looking for the taste of the meat, American barbecue easily tops the fight.
Korean side dishes include kimchi, Korean potato salad, pickled radishes, scallion pancakes and many more. In fact, there’s a long list of Korean side dishes that you can pair with your Korean BBQ. You can also eat meat with lettuce wraps or rice.
On the other hand, American barbecue is always paired with grilled corn, mash, coleslaw, baked beans, and macaroni salad. Sure, you can eat rice alongside your American barbecue but you’ll be missing out on the other savory side dishes that complement the hickory taste.
If you are looking for a wide array of side dishes, there’s definitely more on the Korean side.
When it comes to experience, both the Americans and Koreans give a different vibe. The former is often done by families and communities because every state has its own traditions and recipes for cooking barbecue. The latter is often eaten by friends because a Korean barbecue is a great meal for when you are drinking outside.
Depending on the experience you are looking for, both barbecue styles offer great experiences worth sharing with family and friends.