Foodie Friday: Jeju Black Pork
I must admit that I hadn’t done my research before I found myself at a black pork restaurant in the Jungmun Resort area of Jeju, South Korea. I didn’t really know what to expect. Was the pork charred? Was it coated in dark spices? Was it maybe severely aged and discoloured? The platter of meat that was brought out to us was definitely not black. It turns out Jeju black pork gets its name from the black skinned pig native to this island south of the Korean peninsula.
If you’re out for a feed of black pork you may come across it on the menu as 똥되지 (ddong dweji). This directly translates to ‘poop pig’ but don’t worry, it’s not a commentary on the taste. Up until the 1960s pigs on Jeju were kept in pens below latrines as a way to get rid of human waste. Yum. Normal feed is used today – some say to the detriment of the flavour – so don’t let its colourful past turn you away. Black pork is actually redder than your typical pork, almost like beef. It has a distinctive smokey flavour and a chewy texture. Due to the relative rarity of black pigs, expect to pay a bit more.
My Jeju black pork experience started with the restaurant sending a van to the hotel to fetch us. Fancy schmancy. After deciding on the 500g of assorted cuts, the side dishes started arriving. One after another after another. I counted ten in total. Plates are out of control for some Korean meals. This one came to a grand total of 24 plates and bowls for two people. Glad I wasn’t doing the dishes afterwards. It makes every meal feel like a feast.
The meat was grilled at the table in front of us. I’m not sure if it was the custom of this restaurant or if, because of our foreignness, the waitress didn’t trust us to do it right but she kept coming over and slicing up the meat for us as it cooked. At most bbq restaurants you snip up the meat yourself. After a few minutes of sizzling we were ready to dive in. I tried my first piece straight up, wanting to get the full unadulterated flavour. It was crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside with a hint of smoke and I could tell it was high quality meat. My next piece was swirled in a combo of sesame oil & salt known as 기름잔 (gireum chan) that really intensified the flavour. So freakin’ delicious. After that I alternated making little lettuce & pork bundles, experimenting with different combos of side ingredients, and popping those little pork morsels straight into my mouth solo. I may have made yummy noises at least once during the meal.
So was it really that good? Let’s just say we went right back to that same restaurant again the next night for round two and I’ve been craving it ever since. Like the old detergent ad said, “it might cost a little more, but it’s worth it.”
- Where: I can’t remember the name of our restaurant near the Jungmun Resort Complex but there are a ton.
- Cost: ₩40,000 for 500g of assorted cuts (plenty for two)
- Verdict: Best pork ever.