Stir-fried pork belly with bean sprouts from Korean Drama Itaewon Class. It’s quick, easy and delicious!
In my first Korean drama series post, we took a look at the dishes featured in the award-winning series, Itaewon Class. This samgyupsal sukju bokkeum (stir fried pork belly with bean sprouts) appears in one of the pivotal moments of the drama.
In Episode 7, Saeroyi’s rival makes an unexpected visit to Danbam and asks for the restaurant’s best stew and best stir fried dish. Sundubu jjigae is presented along with samgyupsal sukju bokkeum.
The drama’s Danbam is a type of restaurant that’s known as “pocha” in Korea. The word “pocha” is a portmanteau of pojang macha which refers to street carts and tents selling food and alcohol drinks. Over the last decade or so, pojang macha inspired indoor eateries emerged and became popular, serving alcohol drinks and anju (food enjoyed with alcohol).
Koreans enjoy a wide variety of food with their drinks, including savory pancakes, grilled meat, stews, and stir-fries. This stir-fried pork belly with bean sprouts is popular as anju.
Why you should make this
The highlights of this dish are the extra thin cut of pork belly and bean sprouts. Both cook up very quickly, so you can seriously whip this up in less than 20 minutes! The thin, tender slices of pork belly pair deliciously with crunchy bean sprouts in a simple, light sauce!
While you can use any thinly sliced meat, daepae samgyupsal (대패 삼겹살), shaved pork belly, is typical for this dish. Daepae means a hand plane. It’s also great with shaved chadolbagi (차돌박이), beef brisket. You can find a variety of extra thin meats in your local Korean/Asian markets.
If you want to thinly slice the meat yourself, freeze the meat until it’s firm, but still sliceable. With a sharp knife, slice the meat as thin as you can.
The bean spouts
This recipe uses lots of bean sprouts that you can easily find in your local grocery store. They are mung bean sprouts (sukju namul, 숙주나물 in Korean). The bean sprouts play an important supporting role in this dish. Keep the sprouts crunchy for the final dish.
You can add some strips of carrot, red chili or bell pepper for a pop of color if you like.
How to stir-fry the meat and bean sprouts
To keep the meat nice and tender and the bean sprouts crunchy, cook everything quickly over high heat. First, cook the meat until it’s no longer pink, and then add the bean sprouts and other vegetables. When the bean sprouts are slightly wilted but still crunchy, stir in the seasoning ingredients and toss everything well to finish up before turning the heat off.
You can simply use soy sauce to season the dish, but oyster sauce is also nice. For the amounts of the meat and bean sprouts in this recipe, you’ll need about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or oyster sauce. You can also use a tablespoon each.
Samgyupsal sukju bokkeum (Stir-fried pork belly and bean sprouts)
- 8 ounces thinly sliced/shaved pork belly (대패 삼겹살) or other thinly sliced pork or beef See note
- 10 ounces bean sprouts (sukju, 숙주)
- 1/4 medium onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic or 2 -3 plump garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 or 3 scallions or 2 ounces garlic chives (buchu, 부추)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or oyster sauce (or 1 T each)
- 1 teaspoon sugar - optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the meat into bite size pieces (about 2 to 3 inches long).
- Give the bean sprouts a quick rinse, and drain. Thinly slice the onion, and cut the scallions (or garlic chives) into 2-inch pieces.
- Heat a large pan over high heat until very hot. Add the pork, and stir-fry quickly until no longer pink. You don't need cooking oil if using pork belly, but use a tablespoon if needed. A non-stick pan helps with no additional oil as well,
- Add the bean sprouts and other vegetables, and continue to stir fry until the bean sprouts have wilted slightly but still crunchy.
- Add the soy sauce and/or oyster sauce, garlic, sugar and pepper to taste. Stir-fry quickly. Season with salt to taste if necessary.