May 04, 2021At Home

Why Korea Loves Portable Gas

Korea has an unusual obsession with the portable gas stove.

In the 2000s, Korean BBQ competed with sushi for food trend of the moment. A social event offering everything savoury, smoky, sweet, and spicy; the driving dish behind the craze was samgyeopsal.

Translation: Grilled pork belly.

Watch this sizzling instructional video to make samgyeopsal at home.

Documentary Korean Pork Belly Rhapsody details a national obsession with a dish that grew from Seoul ‘tent bars’ in the 1970s, crediting the global rise of samgyeopsal to the portable gas stove.

“Back in the 70s and 80s, young, poor hungry and youtfhul labourers came to Seoul from all over the country. This was the food that comforted them.” – Korean Pork Belly Rhapsody

The culture caught on with office workers. Portable gas stoves allowed restaurants to quickly add the dish to dinner menus. Easily enjoyed at home or outdoors, the dish became ubiquitous and captured a global appetite for social dining.

Butane stoves with their fast and consistent heat, took over from charcoal briquettes and drove mass production of butane cartridges. In fact, Korea, led by company Taeyang, is now the leading global supplier of butane gas canisters.

The grill was brought onto the table, and soju was paired with sizzling protein and fat and suites of delicious sauces and sides. Industry innovation saw 2-3000 types of grills made available, but portable gas stoves endure as the preferred way to partake of this delicious cultural phenomenon.

Learn more about South Korea’s infatuation with pork belly and the gas stove in the documentary love letter, Korean Pork Belly Rhapsody on Netflix.

Did this story make you hungry? Find samgyeopsal near you here.

Or learn the Chef’s Secret to cooking with natural gas in Brighter’s exclusive series with Adrian Richardson here.