Samgyeopsal: Why Filipinos Love Them So Much

Hey guys! We’re going to tune in to a different voice today. I invited one of my friends who also happens to be a blogger, to write an article here in my space. I asked him to write about something that lights him up and this is what he came up with. Let’s give it up for Lester Nubla!

Three-layered flesh

When I hear Samgyeopsal, I immediately imagine the entire thing—the restaurant, the side dishes, the various meats, and the grill. But Samgyeopsal literally means “three layer flesh” as seen in the pork belly when cut (I just googled it). Here in the Philippines, the word is automatically understood as “unlimited meat grilling” eaten in restaurants.

This dish from Korea has been loved by Filipinos for years and at first, I did not understand why. I just began to understand the addiction of many Filipinos to the dish when I tried it. Here are some reasons why I think Samgyeopsal is very popular among Filipinos:

1. The word “unlimited” is enticing. But come to think of it, is it really worth it? The average price of an unlimited meat package is PHP 499 (roughly $10). You are given raw meat which you still need to cook. The side dishes do not seem to be expensive too. Maybe for some people who can eat a lot, it’s really worth it, but I believe that most of the population cannot make the most out of it. That’s why Samgyeopsal businesses are booming.

2. The side dishes are superb. When we cook at home, we usually just cook one or two dishes because it takes time to prepare. The side dishes offered by these restaurants are really enticing because it’s unusual for us Filipinos to have so many flavors in one table. It’s like “fiesta” for us to have that much food in one dining!

3. The price is just enough. This is only my opinion, but the price is just enough for a good Korean dining experience. You don’t have to worry about the bill because it’s an unlimited package. You just focus on cooking, eating, and bonding with your friends!

 4. The joy of the experience. I’ve seen non-cooks turn into professional grill masters at Samgyeopsal restaurants. There’s something about grilling meat at a table with your friends that touches the Filipino spirit. It gives a sense of family and togetherness. We enjoy shared experiences like this especially if it’s new.

Lunch out!

What to be careful about

My wife loves Samgyeopsal so one time I talked to her about it. Eating it frequently is NOT healthy. Yes, there’s lettuce and other vegetables but the main dish, which is grilled meat, is never healthy.  Charring meat causes the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amine (HAA) that could cause cancer. Furthermore, when fat is exposed to heat, it becomes oxidized that creates free radicals. Here’s an excerpt from the US National Library of Medicine’s website:

If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.

That’s why I worry that if Filipinos will not have discipline in eating the dish, many of us will get sick. So, the actual intention of this article is to spread awareness. We should be wary of joining the bandwagon of eating the dish regularly as if it’s already part of our diet. Maybe eating out once a month is enough. Especially now that we are battling against COVID-19, we should strengthen our immune system by eating fruits and vegetables and staying away from unhealthy food.

Keep safe and be guided always!

Let us know! What do you think about Samgyeopsal? Do you have a version of it in your part of the world?

Did you crave and at the same time checked on your health? I did! If you want to read more of his musings and articles just go over his blog! You’ll find many interesting practical tidbits there.

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