Know your Pork Cut!!

Pork is probably the most popular meat in Korea. Partly because it’s much more affordable than beef but also because the fatty flavor of pork really goes well with many Korean seasonings and condiments, especially Kimchi. Adding pork to Kimchi Jjigae really transforms it into a very hearty, flavorful stew.

When compared to beef, Pork cuts are simpler – 22 pork cuts vs 100+ beef cuts! And as far as the primal cuts go, there is almost a one-to-one correlation between Korean cuts and US cuts. But again, Korean pork cuts are further divided into more detailed smaller cuts.

First, here’s the US pork cut diagram from http://www.clovergarden.com:

North American Pork Cut Diagram

North American Pork Cuts

And below is a diagram that shows all the different Korean Pork cuts within each US primal pork cut. Believe it or not, I drew this by hand!!! I just could not find one that properly showed all the different cuts in the right location so after searching the internet for many hours, I decided I would spend even more hours to draw the Korean pork diagram myself…why I do these things, I don’t know.. :)

Korean pork cuts diagram by JinJoo Lee (www.kimchimari.com)

Korean pork cuts diagram by JinJoo Lee (www.kimchimari.com)

Now, let’s go over each of the 22 Korean cuts of pork along with applicable US cuts.

Primal Cut Korean US
Tenderloin (Ahnshim 안심) 1. Ahnshim sal(안심살) Tenderloin
Loin (Deungshim 등심) 2. Deungshim sal(등심살) Boneless loin
3. Al deungshim sal (알등심살) Boneless loin (center loin, closer to spine)
4. Deungshim dut sal or Gabrit saal(등심덧살, 가브릿살) Blade end loin (front top loin)
Butt/Boston Butt (Mokshim목심) 5. Mokshim sal (목심살) Butt
Picnic, Shoulder (Apdari 앞다리) 6. Apdari sal (앞다리살) Boneless picnic (shoulder)
7. Apsahtae saal (앞사태살) Boneless picnic (more leg than shoulder)
8. Hangjeong sal (항정살) Neck (part picnic, part butt)
Leg, ham (Dwitdari뒷다리) 9. Bolggi sal (볼기살) Butt end of ham
10. Sulkit sal (설깃살) Center part of ham (middle)
11.Dogani sal(도가니살) Center part of ham (near loin, belly)
12. Hongdukkae sal(홍두깨살) Center part of ham (near tail end)
13. Boseop sal (보섭살) Rump
14. Dwitsahtae sal(뒷사태살) Shank end of ham
Belly (Samgyeop sal 삼겹살) 15. Samgyeop sal(삼겹살) Belly meat from rib #5,6 to end of side, ending before hind leg
16. Galmaeggi sal(갈매기살) Flap meat
17. Deung kalbi sal(등갈비살) Baby back ribs (from rib #5 to end)
18. Tosi sal(토시살) End part of flap meat, near butt end
19.  Ohdolsamgyeop sal(오돌삼겹살) Rib tips (from rib #5 to end)
Ribs (Kalbi 갈비) 20. Kalbi (갈비) Front ribs (#1-#5)
21. Kalbi sal (갈비살) Boneless rib meat (#1-#5)
22. Maguri (마구리) Rib tips (#1-#5)
Jowl (Bolsal 볼살) 23. Bolsal (볼살) Cheek/Jowl

Note that the cuts are not always an exact match.

  • 24. Jok bal(족발) usually includes bottom part of the hock but not all. The upper part of the hock is also included in Sahtae(사태).

Here are some additional tid bits that’s worth mentioning:

  • 16. Galmaeggi sal(갈매기살) – This is Flap meat taken from the concave part of the spareribs and Saint Louis ribs. In the US, it is usually trimmed off from the ribs and is either ground up for sausage meat or chefs just eat it as snack(aka Chef’s bonus). Koreans consider this cut a delicacy and restaurants advertise this cut as their featured menu. Because this is a muscle near the diaphragm, it can get exposed to the pig’s innards and can be contaminated. Careful cleaning and preparation is important when eating this cut.
  • 18. Tosi sal(토시살) – This cut is separated from Galmaeggi sal and is so small (only about 3 oz per pig) that it’s often sold as part of Galmaeggi sal. Some people love the taste of Tosi sal because of it has more intense flavor and chewy texture than Galmaeggi sal.

Finally, here is a list of which cuts work best for each cooking method:

Soups(국 Guk or 탕 Tang)

  • shoulder, picnic(apdari sal, apsahtae sal)
  • center cut of ham(seolkit sal, dogani sal)
  • rib tips(maguri)

Stew/Hotpot (찌게 Jjigae/전골 Jeongol)

  • center cut of ham(dogani sal)
  • butt(mokshim sal)

Grilling (구이 Gui)

Koreans are masters at grilling all kinds of tough, chewy meat by slicing them thinly against the grain.

  • basically all cuts except the Loin area are popular for grilling. Most popular are slices from the Belly(samgyeop sal) and Tenderloin(ahnshim sal).

marinated bulgogi recommended:

  • loin(deungshim sal)
  • butt(mokshim sal)
  • butt end of ham(bolggi sal)
  • rump(boseop sal)
  • leg of ham(dwitsahtae sal)

Braised (Jjim 찜, Jorim 조림)

  • tenderloin(ahnshim sal)
  • picnic(apdari sal)
  • rump, leg, butt end of ham(boseop sal, dwitsahtae sal, bolggi sal)
  • baby back ribs(deungkalbi sal)

Boiled Meat (Suyuk 수육, Pyeonyuk 편육)

  • butt(mokshim sal)
  • leg of ham(dwitsahtae sal)
  • belly(samgyeop sal)
  • rib tips(ohdolsamgyeop sal)

Sweet and Sour pork (Tangsuyuk 탕수육)

  • tenderloin(ahnshim sal)
  • loin(deungshim)
  • center cut of ham(seolkit sal, dogani sal)

** Special appreciation to Mr.Grygus at www.clovegarden.com for granting me permission to use his chart and cut information. His site has some great information about the various cuts.

** AmazingRibs.com also was a great resource for understanding how exactly the ribs and belly parts were cut.

Hope this was helpful!!! Hope you will get to enjoy some great samgyeop sal BBQ very soon!

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7 thoughts on “Know your Pork Cut!!

  1. Shelley @Travel-Stained October 24, 2013 at 9:45 am Reply

    I cannot even explain to you how helpful this is! I’ve been living in Seoul for about 5 years, but am definitely not fluently Korean (despite being gyopo) – and I’m always a little intimidated to go to the butcher, because I’m not sure what cut of meat to ask of him. Thank you so much!! PS: I make your soondubu jigae ALL the time. I tried a bunch of online recipes and yours was the best BY FAR!!! :)

    • JinJoo October 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm Reply

      Hi! Thank you SO much for your kind comments!! It really makes it all worthwhile. I am so glad you find it helpful. Honestly, even I didn’t know all the cuts although I have lived in Korea until 25 years old~ And so happy to hear that you like the soondubu jjigae – Enjoy! ;)

  2. d'liteful cravings January 14, 2014 at 12:59 am Reply

    Reblogged this on d'liteful cravings.

  3. Bunny Eats Design January 14, 2014 at 3:05 am Reply

    Great diagram! I love all the different distinctions and how you have listed dishes for the cuts.

    That’s so interesting on the popularity of pork in Korea. I love love love how Koreans cook beef (especially bulgogi) so I always assumed that beef was the most popular meat in Korea. I am Cantonese and have a specially place in my heart for pork. What Korean pork dishes do you recommend as the most delicious Korean pork dish?

    • JinJoo February 20, 2014 at 7:35 am Reply

      Hi! I’m so sorry.. I just realized I never replied to your comment. I try to reply to every comment but somehow this one escaped me. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment and I recommend Pork bulgogi and pork belly bbq. I also LOVE spicy soy braised pork ribs but unfortunately this one is usually not served at restaurants.. Enjoy! Thanks again!

  4. yummychunklet January 18, 2014 at 12:46 am Reply

    How fun and informative!

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