Skip to main content

What To Know About Jeju Black Pig, the Kobe Beef of Pork

Although famous for fermented kimchi and rich stews, Korean cuisine also prides itself on a unique meat product — Jeju black pig. This black-haired breed of pig hails from Jeju island, an island off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. One of the most prized foods in Korea and often described as the wagyu beef of pork, Jeju black pig is leagues above standard pork. In Jeju, it’s common to find tourists from all over Korea who’ve traveled to the island specifically for this legendary pork.

Here to help The Manual understand why this pork is so prized is Chef Andrew Lim of Perilla, a modern Korean barbecue restaurant in Chicago.

Jeju black pig shoulder and belly cuts on a grill.
Colin Charles/Flickr

Related Guides

What is Jeju Black Pig?

Koreans are extremely proud of their regional foods. Each region of Korea is famous for specialties ranging from cold noodles to eel barbecue. For Koreans traveling to Jeju, no trip is complete without a meal of Jeju black pig. This breed of pig originated in Manchuria about 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. Jeju black pig has been carefully documented and bred since the 1400s in Korea,

What makes Jeju black pig unique is its combination of color, taste, and texture. First, the color of this pork is very red, with an almost beef-like appearance and a far cry from the soft pink of standard pork. The taste of Jeju black pig is also very meaty, with a steak-like flavor. In general, most pork has a gaminess to the meat, but with Jeju black pig, that funk is nonexistent without sacrificing any of the rich fat prized in pork. But the most unique element of Jeju black pig might be its “chewy” texture.

“The texture of that first bite of “hook dweji” (black pig) off of the grill is what I fell in love with,” said Chef Andrew Lim. “It has a chewiness and snap about it, much like that signature snap you’d get from an all-beef Vienna frank at an old hot dog shop in Chicago.” It’s this textural combination of a meaty chew with soft, rich fat that makes Jeju black pig a travel-worthy treat for many Koreans.

Preparing Jeju Black Pig

Jeju black pig shoulder cuts on the grill with anchovy sauce.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The most popular way of cooking Jeju black pig is on the barbecue. Unlike American barbecue, Korean barbecue isn’t slow-smoked. Rather, cuts of meat are grilled over direct heat (charcoal, gas, or sometimes hay) table-side and served with various side dishes and sauces.

Cuts from Jeju black pigs are served very thick, with shoulder, collar, and belly being the preferred pieces. Koreans prefer pork with a healthy mix of fat and meat. The best cut to satisfy this ideal is pork belly, called samgyupsal (SAM-gyup-sal) in Korean. Breaking down the word, sam means the number 3, a direct description of the layers of meat to fat on a cut of pork belly. However, according to Lim, since the layers of fat and meat on Jeju black pig is considered superior, Jeju pork belly is called OH gyup sal (OH is the number 5).

Diners at Jeju black pig restaurants should expect thick slabs of pork placed whole on the grill. After a few minutes of grilling, these thick pieces will be cut into bite-sized chunks with scissors (an essential part of Korean barbecue). In Jeju island, there’s a unique sauce that’s served with black pig — myeolchi-jeot, a pungently salty anchovy-based dipping sauce. This sauce is commonly served in a small metal bowl and placed directly on the edge of the grill to keep warm. Other common seasonings include plates of thinly sliced marinated scallions and good-quality dipping salt.

Editors' Recommendations

Hunter Lu
Hunter Lu is a New York-based food and features writer, editor, and NYU graduate. His fiction has appeared in The Line…
What To Know About Yamakazi 55, a $60,000 Japanese Whisky Brewed in 1960
One of one hundred limited Yamakazi 55 Japanese Whisky bottles, retailing at a suggested $60,000.

One of one hundred limited Yamakazi 55 Japanese Whisky bottles, retailing at a suggested $60,000. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Interested in sipping 55-year-old Japanese Whisky? All you need is $60,000 to drop on one of 100 limited bottles of Yamazaki 55 from The House of Suntory Whisky.

Read more
Everything You Need To Know About Wagyu Beef
wagyu beef raw steak marbling

Before we can jump into all things Wagyu, we need to understand what it is, where does Wagyu come from, and what does it mean across the world. For example, do you know the difference between Wagyu and Kobe? Kobe Beef is a type of Wagyu that is raised under strict standards. So, Kobe is Wagyu but not all Wagyu is Kobe. Wagyu in the Japanese language means "Japanese Cattle" (Wa means Japanese, gyu means cattle).

There is no denying that Black Angus Beef is a top seller and the most common breed of cattle in the United States but Wagyu beef is the reigning champion beef of all beef. You can't find anything better than a piece of Wagyu beef unless it's a side to accompany it.

Read more
The 11 Best Bacon Brands for a Hearty, Meaty Breakfast
best bacon

Ah, bacon. Besides being delectable and one of humankind’s most fabulous creations, there are numerous other reasons why you can allow yourself to revel in the tasty cured meat more often. For one, bacon has nutrients. A 3.5-ounce (100 grams) portion of bacon has around 37 grams of protein, a good amount of B vitamins, and 89% of the daily recommended amount of selenium. Also, if you plan to go on a keto diet, bacon will be your most trusted ally.

Of course, we’re not going to come out and say you should be eating bacon every day. But, in moderation, almost anything we can consume can help us out somehow (except smoking -- we all know nothing good comes of that).

Read more