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Korean Pulled Pork

(Note - this article, authored by myself, was originally published in 'UK BBQ Mag' in Winter 2019 (p.14). Whilst this publication no longer continues it has been replaced by BBQ Magazine, please check out their website for more details and opportunity to subscribe to this publication which unlike its predecessor is now in print. The original article, which I've amended slightly, can be found here.)

This recipe is just a Korean twist on the American-style pulled pork we are all used to. However, by amending the rub and serving with kimchi and sriracha, plus a couple of other changes to the slaw, it was transformed into a whole new dish. The 1/3rd rule for rubs, using 1/3rd sugar, 1/3rd salt and 1/3rd aromatics, was applied here and by making the final 1/3rd of aromatics Korean rather than American, it made all the difference. I’ll also make a confession up front, as this cook was for some work colleagues I didn’t in fact cook it all the way to the end, to the point of pulling, on the smoker, and this was for several reasons. Firstly, I wanted to keep as much of the juice and rendered fat as possible to make a barbecue sauce, as I was going to cook the pork, chill it and reheat when required for serving to my colleagues, stirring in the barbecue sauce as I was reheating it and pulling just before serving. Secondly, after a certain amount of time in the smoker the meat wasn’t going to take on anymore of the smoke flavour, and I was doing a fair amount of pork it was going to be much easier to finish it in the oven on the lowest setting (amusingly I used the temperature pit probe to check that my oven was at the temperature I would have run the barbecue at!). The end result was as good as if it had been in the smoker the whole time, I just got more sleep in the process!


1 large pork shoulder (the recipe below is for one pork shoulder, but when I cooked it I did several)

To Serve

Soft white buns



Sesame seeds

Chopped fresh chillis


¾ cup apple juice

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

¼ cup salt

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce


11g star anise

36g fennel seed

20g sesame seed

20g black pepper

102g Chinese Five Spice

52g paprika

35g ground ginger

30g hot chilli powder

326g dark brown sugar

326g salt

I trimmed and prepared the pork shoulder as I would any other pulled pork recipe. The injection wasn’t essential, but I decided to anyway and injected with the ingredients above mixed together and left for a couple of hours. I made up the rub by blitzing all the ru

b ingredients together, I used a spice grinder as the star anise, fennel seeds and sesame seeds needed breaking down as well as mixing, although I’m sure a small food processor would also do the job. I rubbed the pork shoulder liberally with the rub mix getting into all the folds and cracks and left for another two hours, during which time I got the smoker up to temperature to cook at 250°F. Once up to temperature I put the pork in the smoker using a mix of cherry and oak wood chunks to smoke the pork with.

Once the pork had been in the smoker for about 8hrs it wasn’t cooked enough to pull but had developed a nice bark and a clear smoke ring. As mentioned earlier, I then finished it in the oven overnight, again at 250°F. Once the pork was at the point where it was going to pull nicely I took it out the oven and placed it in containers to cool and chill down in the fridge. I decided not to pull the pork at this stage and instead left it as whole as possible so it could be pulled on reheating when the barbecue sauce was added.

Now I had finished cooking the pork the juices and rendered fat were able to be separated from the pork and saved, unlike usual when they just drip into the water tray under the meat. I used the juices and fat as the basis for a Korean-style barbecue sauce where I added tomato ketchup, sesame oil, soy sauce, hoi sin sauce, plum sauce, rice vinegar and honey.

The following day, when I was due to serve the Korean pulled pork to my colleagues I added the Korean-style barbecue sauce to the pork and as it heated up, this added precious flavour and moisture back into the pork as it was heating up to the point where it could be pulled properly. I actually heated it up over a fire pit in foil trays). I also knocked up a Korean style slaw using a standard slaw recipe of white cabbage, red cabbage, carrot and mayo. However, to give it a Korean twist I added fennel, lime zest, lime juice, rice vinegar, sesame seeds and sesame oil. This was served in a bun with sriracha, chopped chillis, some kimchi and a final sprinkling of sesame seeds.

(p.s. As this was a cook for colleagues I did serve a vegetarian version too which was halloumi that was rubbed in the same Korean style rub as the pork and grilled over direct heat. Then served with the same accompaniments as the pulled pork. This was equally as good and for those who wanted pork AND halloumi, yes there were a few, it was also a great addition).


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