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Summer Eats-How to Plan And Execute The Best Yakiniku (Korean Barbeque) Family Experience

Summertime is perfect for outdoor dining and family picnics! A creative way to share food and fun with the family is to plan "Yakiniku Night." As a family living in Hawaii, my husband and I planned two of these dinners with our family of 9 adults, 3 kids and a baby. Everyone (including the kids) loved the experience!

What is Yakiniku?

Yakiniku means "grilled meat" and originated as a Japanese style of cooking during the Meiji period of Japan. However, it became known as a Korean style of cooking during the Korean War and to this day, people eat both Japanese and Korean style of yakiniku. Today, people know yakiniku to be a shared experience of grilling small pieces of meat and vegetables right at the table and eating these foods with dipping sauces, rice, and other side picked vegetables. There are many popular yakiniku restaurants here in Hawaii, on the mainland, and all throughout Japan and Korea. The smokey experience provides a fun and loose atmosphere for socialization, good food, and lots of beer and wine. Both Japanese and Korean yakiniku are delicious but personally even though I am Japanese (haha) I enjoy Korean yakiniku a little bit more. With Korean yakiniku, I enjoy the flavors, and the "banchan" (Korean side dishes- for example kimchee, seaweed, etc) a little bit more.

Here's a video that I made last year when we did yakiniku night for the first time. Enjoy! This video also included us making seaweed soup and pork kimchee which could give you other ideas to include for Yakiniku night.

Equipment used to film this video: (Amazon Affiliate Links)

Iphone Telepod:

How to Create Korean Yakiniku Night: (These pictures and directions are from the second time we planned Yakiniku night so it is different that the YouTube video).

  1. Visit Your Local Asian Market/Korean Grocery Store-

When my husband and I have Yakiniku night, we visit Palama Market in Honolulu. They have 3 main supermarket locations (Honolulu, Kalihi, and Aiea) and 3 express locations (Aloha Tower, King Street, and Nimitz). Our personal favorite is the one located in Honolulu because it is the biggest and has the most selection.

2. What Food To Buy:

The great thing about creating Yakiniku night is that it all depends on what you prefer to eat. If you prefer mainly grilled teriyaki flavored meat, buy that. Or if you prefer mainly vegetables, buy that. We enjoy a variety of things and at Palama Market, they have most foods that you would want for Yakiniku readily available.

Start with the banchan (Side dishes)

There is such a huge variety of dishes to get... my personal favorite are the cooked choy sum, sesame spinach, pickled seaweed, fishcake, sliced radish, and of course, the kimchee.

This brand of kimchee is one of my husband's favorites! It's fresh and so delicious! It's just enough spice for me (a mild- medium spice level) and for my husband as well (medium-hot spice level)

After picking your veggies, pick out your meats:

Generally, we try to get a variety of meats since we have all ages eating (baby to 98). So we decided to get a pork belly, boneless short rib, beef brisket, and marinated chicken.

My sister and brother in law were also going to Costco on the same day so they bought the bulgogi (translated as "fire-meat"). Bulgogi is thin slices of beef that is already marinated in a teriyaki-style of sauce. We were well stocked with meat.

Lastly, my mom also wanted to grill other veggies which is really delicious for Yakiniku. She cut up eggplant, onion, mushroom, cabbage, and pumpkin. Personally I am not a huge meat eater so these veggies were some of my favorites of the night!

3. Prepare your grill

This aluminum grill pan has been working well for us. Since it is rounded, the oil seeps down and doesn't stay on the meat of veggies. We just spray with cooking oil before we start. (Amazon affiliate link)

4. Prepare the table:

We had two cooking areas so we made 2 trays of meat and veggies. If your party is less than 6, you probably only need one grill. I also put all the banchan in small dishes around the table for everyone. Make sure to designate one or two people to cook. If there are small children around, keep them away from the grill.

5. Prepare the sauces:

We had three four different sauce options:

1) Sesame oil (Sesame oil, salt and pepper)

2) Gochujan (Red chili paste and water)

3) Store bought yakiniku sauce

4) Homemade yakiniku sauce.

We got this delicious sauce from:

6. Prepare the drinks:

Spicy food always goes well with alcholic drinks for some reason. Drinks of choice for yakiniku night are beer, chum churum (Korean clear spirit) and a bottle of good wine.

6. Don't forget to make rice!

7. Grill, eat, and enjoy!

Remember that this dish is all about your personal preference and you can customize it to whatever you want to eat! Make sure to have extra butane canisters ready (just in case you run out of gas)

Our family loves to change it up and eat meals like this! It felt like we were at a Korean Yakiniku restaurant but in the comfort of our own backyard. Enjoy!

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