Differences Between Korean and American BBQ

The Battle of the Barbecues

Barbecue is loved the world over. But not all barbecues are the same. Different regions and cultures have their ways of preparation and cooking styles. Americans are crazy about barbecue and it is one of the nation’s iconic dishes. What sets it apart from, say, Asian varieties, like Korean barbecue?

Barbecue is a matter of regional pride in the US, forms of barbecuing, an expert says, are 4 different styles, exemplified by certain states. Carolina-style barbecue is named after North Carolina and South Carolina. Pork is the main meat. A whole hog goes over a pit, then shredded, chopped or pulled. Sauce in N carolina is vinegar-based; it’s mustard-made in the south, sometimes called ‘Carolina gold.’

Texas-style barbecue is all about beef, especially from chest and shoulder muscles. It’s very thick, tough meat that requires very slow cooking. They don’t use sauces, but instead a mix of herbs and spices called a ‘rub.’ Texas is especially known for its smoked brisket.

Memphis-style BBQ is best known for its pork ribs, served dry, without sauce, or wet, with sauce. The sauce is sometimes very sweet, because of molasses. Then finally, the Kansas City-style BBQ. Kansas City is where Carolina and Memphis pork barbecue meet Texas beef barbecue; said to be the best of both worlds. The style boasts of pork ribs and beef brisket. The sauce is thick and tomato-based, sweet and spicy.

While traditional American forms of barbeque are roast pork, ribs, brisket or chicken, Korean traditional barbeque is beef, but also chicken and pork varieties are used. The beef is grilled with skewers, called neobiani, the origin of bulgogi. Bulgogi is barbecued or pan-fried beef that has been marinated with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, minced garlic, green onion, black pepper, and sesame oil, and so on, including ground pear or honey. Korean barbecue is somewhat sweet.

When it comes to sides, the American barbecue usually comes with plenty of coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob, macaroni salad and potato chips. Korean sides include rice, lettuce and mixed banchan, which is assorted vegetables, pickles and kimchi. At an American restaurant, food will be prepared in the kitchen and brought to the table. At most Korean barbeque restaurants, food is prepared at the table with a built-in grill or stove top. A wait staff can do the cooking or the diners themselves. However, for both the American and Korean versions, it’s the eating, the getting together of folks enjoying a meal as one that defines barbecue.

Dining Korean Barbecue in Seattle

If you’ve been around and tried the different American-style BBQs, experience Korean BBQ for a change, here at Korean Tofu House in the University District at UW Seattle.