Spicy Pan-Grilled Pork Belly in Red Chili Paste (Dwaejibulgogi – My Way)

During the week, I’m usually crunched for time so weeknight cooking demands swiftness and simplicity. One of my girls’ favorite dishes which involves minimal fuss and fairly simple to whip up within an hour from start to face-stuffing is Korean spicy grilled pork belly, or Dwaejibulgogi. My Korean hubby often requests for this flavorful dish because he loves pork belly marinated in red chili pepper paste, garlic, and onions, then grilled until golden brown with crispy, burnt edges. However, remaining true to my “Cooking Mai Way” madness, I’m doing it my way: one spicy, one not, but both with a little more vegetables, and always with a splash or two of fish sauce.  The fish sauce gives it an extra, subtle depth of flavor. Here’s my recipe. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6 as main meal when accompanying 1-2 sides


Ingredients – Marinade, Part 1:

1 1/2 lbs. thinly sliced pork belly (raw bacon), skin removed

5 cloves garlic, smashed

1/2 Asian pear, peeled, roughly chopped

1 ginger knob (1 tsp size), smashed

1/2 yellow sweet onion, roughly chopped

2 1/2 tbsp Korean chili pepper paste (another tbsp or 2 if fiery feast is your jam)*

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 1/2  tbsp fish sauce

2/3 tsp toasted sesame oil (don’t overdo, can be overwhelming)

1 tbsp  Shaoxing rice wine (or good dry wine)

2 tbsp brown sugar (I used dark brown)

1 tbsp honey


Ingredients for Marinade, Part II:

1 small organic carrot, julienned

1/2 Cup Vidalia or Maui sweet onions, thinly sliced

2 green onions, cut into 1″ spears

5-8 Asian chives (Buchu), cut into 1″ spears



1. Add all ingredients from Marinade Part 1 to a food processor. (I’m using my Ninja mini here.). Pulse a few times until well-incorporated. Pour marinade into a large bowl or container.

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2. Add thinly sliced, pork belly to the bowl.


3. Add ingredients from Marinade Part 2 to the same bowl. With your hands (plastic gloves helps), work marinade into the pork belly, ensuring marinade reaches all nooks and crannies of meat. Marinate for roughly 25-30 minutes before grilling.



Spicy version on left; non-spicy on right for my girls.

4. When meat is ready to grilled, preheat grill pan until smoking hot. Drizzle pan with some canola or vegetable oil.

5. When oil sizzles, add a few slices of pork belly and sliced Vidalia onions to grill pan. (Don’t overcrowd to prevent steaming. We’re going for even grilling and slightly charred edges.) Grill 2-3 minutes per side. Meat is cut thinly, and will cook quickly. Keep a close eye to avoid overcooking or burning the meat. (This equals dry, cardboard-textured bacon. Point of no return, here!)




6. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice, a side or two of stir-fried/grilled/steamed vegetables and/or with your spicy kimchi of choice.

Occasionally, I’ll serve the family the pork belly with stir-fried green veggies of some sort or like tonight, my hubby and I enjoyed a side dish of homemade Boston cucumber and sour mango kimchi.

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* For the non-spicy/kid-friendly version, omit the red chili pepper paste in the marinade. Personally, the spicy version is the better of the two; just sayin’.