My North Korean Grandmother’s Braised Pork Belly

Difficulty Easy

Soft, jiggly pork belly. Decadent, luscious sauce. My North Korean Grandmother’s Braised Pork Belly recipe is so good, you’ll be scraping the bowl clean.

Korean Braised Pork Belly

Korean Braised Pork Belly is my North Korean Grandmother’s recipe. Pork belly is cut into chunks and braised with Doenjang (fermented soybean paste) until soft and tender. The braising process transforms the texture completely. It also creates a rich, savory sauce.

I grew up eating this delicious dish. I would scoop the thick, meaty chunks of pork belly on top of rice. The sauce, especially, was my favorite part! So savory and pungent. My mouth waters just thinking about it!

A true one-pot meal, Korean Braised Pork Belly is an easy recipe. Although it takes a bit of time until the pork belly is soft and jiggly, the cooking process is mostly hands-off.

In Korean cuisine, there are multiple ways to eat Pork Belly. Fatty and luscious, it’s a rich meat that pairs well with the pillars of Korean cooking: doenjang, gochujang, and ganjang (soy sauce).

This pork belly recipe fits well into the family of Asian Braised Pork Belly dishes: Vietnamese Thit Kho. Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan. Chinese Hong Shao Ru. Japanese Kakune. They all feature tender, melt-in-your-mouth, braised pork belly.

Out of all the family dishes my Korean grandmother cooks — this one is especially treasured. Enjoy!


  • Doenjang. Korean fermented soybean paste. Use the best you can find.
  • Pork Belly. Look for nicely marbled pieces that contain an equal amount of fat and meat. It doesn’t matter if the pork belly is skinned or not — the long braising time will break it down regardless.
  • Ginger. The classic aromatic that pairs well with pork.
  • Instant Coffee. Optional ingredient but a classic Korean way to remove the gamey smell of meat. Leave out if you don’t have it.
  • Mirin. Sweet Korean cooking wine.
  • Soy Sauce. For more flavor and depth.
  • Jalapeno. Adds depth of flavor and subtle spice. An essential ingredient!


  1. Slice pork belly. Slice pork belly into 1/2-inch strips and place in a large pot.
  2. Cook. Add remaining ingredients and water. Cover and cook until pork belly is soft and tender, about 30 minutes. The sauce will be watery.
  3. Reduce sauce. Remove lid and simmer until sauce is thick and reduced, about 10-15 minutes. The pork belly and sauce should darken.
  4. Serve. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with lettuce wraps, rice, and kimchi. Enjoy!

To serve:

To cut the rich fattiness of the dish, serve with lettuce wraps and Gochujang Sauce on the side. Also, kimchi!

Also, make sure to include plenty of rice. This dish’s saucy richness begs to be spooned over rice.

For a party, add other side dishes (banchan) to make it feel like a feast:


What is Doenjang?

Doenjang is Korean fermented soybean paste. Like all other fermented foods, it’s intensely flavored and absolutely delicious. Doenjang is also probiotic and packed with good-for-your-gut nutrition.

Doenjang is similar to Miso paste in that they are both fermented soybean pastes. However, Miso is fermented with Koji, a sweet rice starter that results in a milder, sweeter flavor. Doenjang is fermented with only salt, creating a deeply rich and potent flavor base!

Can this dish be made ahead of time?

Yes, you can Korean Braised Pork Belly up to 2-3 days in advance. It keeps very well in the fridge. Make sure to reheat gently so the sauce doesn’t burn.

Other Pork Belly Dishes to enjoy:

small shallow dish with korean braised pork belly and side dishes all around

My North Korean Grandmother’s Braised Pork Belly

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Soft, jiggly pork belly. Decadent, luscious sauce. My North Korean Grandmother's Braised Pork Belly is so good, you'll be scraping the bowl clean.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 6
Calories 1234 kcal


  • Stock pot with lid


  • 3 lbs pork belly
  • 1/2 cup Doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 inch ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee (optional)
  • 1-2 Jalapenos, sliced *see notes below
  • 2 cups water


  • Slice pork belly. Slice pork belly into 1/2-inch strips and place into a large pot. Add remaining ingredients: doenjang, mirin, soy sauce, ginger, instant coffee, jalapenos, and water.
  • Cook. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer (covered) until pork belly is tender and soft, about 30 minutes. The sauce will be watery.
  • Reduce sauce. Remove lid and simmer until the sauce is thick and reduced, about 10-15 minutes. The pork belly and sauce should darken.
  • Serve. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with lettuce wraps, rice, and kimchi. Enjoy!


*I suggest 1-2 jalapenos because not all jalapenos are equally spicy.  Some are very spicy, some are mild.  I usually taste a little bit of the jalapeno.  If it’s spicy, I use 1 jalapeno.  If it’s mild, I use 2.  Also, I make sure to include all the seeds.  
**Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container. It should last for 4-5 days in the fridge.  Reheat in the microwave, stirring ever 1-2 minutes, until hot and steaming. The pork belly should be tender. 


Calories: 1234kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 25gFat: 122gSaturated Fat: 44gPolyunsaturated Fat: 13gMonounsaturated Fat: 56gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 1143mgPotassium: 512mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 68IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Braised, Korean, Pork Belly
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All Recipes, Braised, Dinner with Friends, Holiday, Korean, Main, Pork


  1. Anonymous

    Do we need to boil the pork first to remove the scum?

    • I find it’s unnecessary as the doenjang will remove the gamey flavor and create a thick, stewy sauce. But if you’d like to do that, feel free to do so!

  2. 5 stars
    Tasty creamy Korean tube steak sausage link soup#1

  3. 5 stars
    Made this and really enjoyed it! One problem I had was that a lot of oil was left after simmering uncovered. Should I add more water to fix that or just simmer for less time? It could be that the pork belly cut I was using was just too fatty as well though

  4. Hi,

    Incredible story and this sounds delicious! If I was going to make for 8 people, how many pounds of pork belly do suggest ?

    Also, for that amount of pork, what is the total time to braise? Thanks!!

    • For 8 people, you could try 4 lbs and keep all the rest of the ingredients the same. It’s very forgiving. If the taste is not strong enough at the end, add another small scoop of Doenjang and cook for 5 minutes more. Enjoy!!

  5. 5 stars
    Was looking for a Korean pork belly recipe to make for dinner with some kimchi and I can’t wait to cook this tonight!!

  6. 5 stars
    So sorry! One more question, do you use pork belly with skin on or off?

  7. 5 stars
    So awesome! I’m making this ASAP! Looks super mashita! How much ginger do you use? And when you say ground ginger do you mean freshly grated like on a microplane or dried ground like a powder? Thank you!!

  8. 5 stars
    Just made this, Such an amazing taste from simple ingredients. My family loved it.

  9. 5 stars
    Great story, recently we have a big Asian supermarket in our neighborhood, so I was searching for some Korean recipes and came across your site. I will try this recipe, love pork belly. (As a matter of fact, I will going to try dozens of your recipes) (-:

  10. Wow what an incredible story! Yum I need to try this one!

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