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The Amazing Korean “Dduk Bossam”


All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
A Korean BBQ spread

There’s a serious lack of Korean food in San Francisco.  Considering the fact that less than 400 miles south of us in Los Angeles, there exists the best Korean food in the world (second only to, perhaps, Korea), it’s a surprise and shame that San Francisco has basically crap for Korean food.  So many of my friends love Korean food, but invariably, when asked to go out to dinner at a Korean restaurant, my answer is no, because I refuse to pay for something that I can cook infinitely better at home.

One such item is what is referred to as “Dduk Bossam” (떡보쌈).  Dduk Bossam is actually a Vietnamese item — rice rolls, to be exact.  This item has been prevalent in Vietnamese cooking for ages — but the Koreans took it and created a nice accompaniment to the typical Korean BBQ meats.  In Korea and in Los Angeles, this type of cuisine is readily available and extremely economical; in San Francisco, there aren’t many decent places that can serve this item. (Update: there is one now that does! Check out YakiniQ.)  So, I’ve now resorted to preparing it at home and thought I’d write a review about that, since you, too, can make it at home.

What You Will Need for Dduk Bossam

I’ll assume you have the items needed for a Korean BBQ, like an electric grill and good meats.  I usually use thinly sliced brisket and/or boiled whole pork belly.  In the examples below, I am using the pork belly.

In cooking the pork belly, I always boil the entire thing first.  This serves two purposes: one, it rids the usually fat-heavy pork belly of much of the fats; and two, it makes the meat very soft.  When put atop a grill, the meat will become crunchy on the outside and a retain a soft chewiness on the inside with minimal fat drippings.

All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
My own vegetable mix

Whether you’re at a restaurant or doing this at home, knowing how to eat dduk bossam is imperative to truly enjoying the experience.  While any good quality meat will work with dduk bossam, I have found that the ideal vegetable mix makes or breaks the entire experience.  With a lesser vegetable mixture, the whole thing fails and I’m near tears when I try a new dduk bossam restaurant that offers sub-par vegetable mixes.

All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Perilla leaves

For my vegetable mix, I always use the following:
1.  Red Leaf Lettuce
2.  Green Leaf Lettuce
3.  Red Perilla Leaves
4.  Organic Kale

Using a combination of these four has never failed me.  The only one that is hard to acquire will be the red perilla leaves; I can most often find them at Chinese or Vietnamese supermarkets, but never have I found it at an American or Korean supermarket.  (Keep in mind that these are slightly stronger in taste that the Korean perilla leaves which are all green.)

All the vegetables should be washed, thinly sliced, then spun to rid the mixture of all water.

Another personal addition that I like with dduk bossam is something called 굴젓 (gool jut) which is basically a raw oyster spicy concoction.  This won’t be a necessity, nor is it everyone’s favorite, but those of who love this will often salivate at the thought of it.  I include a photo of it, but won’t go into how to make this as it’s not really a major player with dduk bossam. Perhaps I will do a separate post about how I make this piece.

Gul jut: All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
My gool-jut – raw spicy oyster-

Additional items you may need are fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers, thinly sliced; fresh garlic, thinly sliced; Sriracha-based hot sauce to dip (if you like things spicy as I do); and a dipping sauce for your meats made of sesame oil, salt and pepper.

For the rice wrappers, I can only find them in large Korean chains in Southern California, or Chinese and/or Vietnamese markets in San Francisco.  I have yet to see this made available in Korean supermarkets in Northern California.  I know for a fact that New May Wah Market on Clement Street has a variation of this made available on a daily basis — fresh, to boot!

Rice Wrappers -- "Dduk Bossam" -- Photo Credit: Lisa Dang
Rice Wrappers — “Dduk Bossam” — Photo Credit: Lisa Dang

They will usually be extra-long strips in the package.  I have never needed to alter the width of the noodle/wrappers, but always need to cut it in length into perfect squares.  Unless they were just made, I find that I need to take these squares, a thinly laid plateful at a time, and nuke them for about 15-20 seconds to make them oily and soft.  I’ve also been known the steam them, too, which might work better but is so time-consuming for basically the same taste.

Now, we’re ready to begin eating.  (And yes, I’m getting hungry while writing this.)
The instructions are in the captions.

How to Eat Dduk Bossam

All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Take a bit of the vegetable mix and put it on your plate.
All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Lay atop the veggies a regular sized piece of pork belly, already grilled
All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Put on some hot sauce and a piece of pepper for spice (serrano shown here)
All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Lay on the garlic — to taste
All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Put the gool jut on stop, or you could use fresh oysters too. Or none at all.
All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Take a square of the dduk bossam and lay it on top

Now, all that’s left is to eat it, and my beloved Yuni is modeling that for you. She so wanted to eat this at my house the way I made it, and this was the price for having that opportunity!

All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Take your chopsticks and wrap it around what’s on the plate. If you can’t use chopsticks, use your hands and pick up the whole thing.

And finally – there is only one thing left to do — put it in your mouth and enjoy!

All About Korean Dduk Bossam | San Francisco Food
Whoosh – put it in your mouth and that’s that!

The Vietnamese and Chinese have so many more dishes you can make with these rice wrappers, and I’m excited to learn all of them over time.  But for the time being, I am so excited about being able to make Dduk Bossam at home that I’m inclined to obsess over this for the next year or so.

I found one site that gives you the recipe on how to stir-fry these delicious noodles, and the outcome looks simply delicious.  Check out Dang It Delicious.  (Incidentally, I robbed the photo of the packaged noodles used in this review off of Linda’s site.)  If that doesn’t get your stomach growling, you need your vision checked.

Give it a whirl and try Dduk Bossam at home.  While the wrappers have some carbohydrates, for sure, the remainder of the meal is light and not burdensome on the stomach if you don’t eat it as spicy as I usually do.  If you like meats, and you like salads — this is right up your alley but you’ll never crave for regular Korean BBQ again.

Dduk Bossam ROCKS!

Grace Keh

Managing Editor

Grace Keh is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to San Francisco" and the critic, editor and photographer behind San Francisco Food. In her regular day job, she consults for corporate clients in marketing and event strategy. Once the sun sets, she's on the hunt for great food in what she considers to be one of the world's greatest cities, San Francisco.

  1. I was very happy to seek out this web-site.I wished to thank for your time for this excellent learn about this Korean food!! I positively enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you blog post.

  2. I think Kang Tong Degi cuts their dduk bossam way too thick. At least twice as thick as you'd normally have it. Its definitely not a bad option if you don't want to make it at home (one of your only options in the bay area) but dduk bossam is super easy to prepare and eat at home. Just gotta hunt down that vietnamese rice paper.

  3. YakiniQ in San Francisco does offer dduk-bossam. I go there often (went last night!) but their vegetable mix leaves much to be desired. That said, the pork belly, galbi and "dae-chang" (large intestines) are pretty good and at some $20 per person, all-you-can-eat, it's a pretty good deal.
    I haven't been to Kang-Tong-Deji in Oakland though.
    I don't mind making this at home; like Hannah says, it is incredibly easy. If you go early in the day, dduk is readily available at May Way Market on Clement in SF.

  4. I just love the Gool Jut (Korean Spicy Raw Oysters). I used to get it all the time when I was in L.A. I live in Hawaii now and this great stuff is no where to be found. Could someone post the recipe or direct me to a site that has the recipe? Thanks in advance!

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San Francisco Food® has been providing trusted restaurant reviews and recipes since 2009, led by food author Grace Keh & read by food lovers worldwide.


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