Kalbi – Why Korean BBQ is Great for Any Diet

What is Korean BBQ (Kalbi)?

Before we explore Korean BBQ’s healthy benefits, let’s learn about what it is.

An appetizing dish of pork Kalbi. (© Hong Yun Seon, Wikimedia Commons)

Kalbi (pronounced Kahl-Bee) is the name used for a type of barbecuing method using marinated pork or beef. Thin slices of meat are cut and placed into a bowl containing a Korean BBQ mixture of josun ganjang (Korean soy sauce), garlic, sugar, and sesame oil. Sometimes gochujang (red pepper paste) or sweet wine is used to vary the flavors, making it spicy or sweet. No sauces are used in Korean BBQ preparation, aside from soy sauce.

Kalbi is cooked by placing it on a grill and letting it cook naturally. Home preparations are usually cooked in a sizzling wok, but grills are the favored choice among Koreans. Meat is always cooked all the way through–Kalbi is never rare, and its full flavor cannot be experienced until it is fully cooked.

Once cooked, Kalbi is usually served with rice or as part of a meal. In Kalbi restaurants, Kalbi is usually accompanied with steamed lettuce and banchan, Korean side dishes. Kalbi has a spicy but mildly sweet flavor, and the meat is always tender, falling off the bone. Many foreigners love Kalbi because it is prepared without sauce, making cleanup easy. Kalbi’s rich but unique flavor also makes it a favorite among foreigners.

Why is Kalbi Great For Any Diet?

Kalbi is a great diet food because of the ingredients used to prepare it, the leanness of the meats, and Korean BBQ cooking methods used in preparation.

Ingredients in Korean BBQ (Kalbi)

Kalbi is created by using simple, low calorie ingredients, such as garlic, red pepper paste, Korean soy sauce, and sugar. Better yet, all of these ingredients are packed with numerous dietary benefits. The benefits include:

  • Garlic: Several studies indicate garlic may lower cholesterol levels, making it ideal for any diet. It also contains allicin, a compound that reduces fat deposits near the skin and high blood pressure. Garlic also contains diet boosting nutrients, including calcium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6.
  • Red pepper paste: Red pepper paste is rich in antioxidants, derived from the crushed chili peppers used to make this popular Korean condiment. The chemical that causes the spicy flavor in red pepper paste also gives Korean BBQ a nutritional boost that also eliminates hunger. It promotes fullness in the stomach, making it a key diet food for weight loss.
  • Korean soy sauce: Many dieters will benefit from the lack of sodium in Korean soy sauce. It is also packed with antioxidants, protecting all cells from tumors and cancer.

Kalbi itself is a lean, nutritious Korean diet food that is low in calories and fat content. Only the leanest cuts of meat are used to make Korean BBQ, and many Koreans are not at risk for cardiovascular diseases, a side effect of eating too much meat. You won’t run into this issue if you add Kalbi to your diet, however.

Korean BBQ Cooking Methods

Kalbi is also prepared using a special grill that allows excess fat to drip away. Circular in size, a traditional Kalbi grill contains a lower

Kalbi is cooked over a specialized circular grill. (© karendotcom127, Wikimedia Commons)

mechanism for collecting excess fat (a mainstay in many Kalbi restaurants) while a metal grill is placed above it to allow Kalbi to cook through. While it cooks, the excess fat and grease drips away from the grill and into a pot below the grill. This naturally strips away fat and calories, making Korean BBQ a healthy and delicious diet food. When prepared correctly, a serving of Korean BBQ is about 163 calories, give or take. Compared to a side of BBQ wings at your local restaurant, this is extremely low in calories–enough to keep you full without making you fatter.

Kalbi is a great food to add to your diet, so eat up! Lean, Korean cuisine is just one bite away, and you won’t feel bloated or unsatisfied afterwards, unlike with some other Asian dishes.

This post is part of the series: Dietary Benefits of Korean Food

Korean food is filling, nutritious, and probably Korea’s best kept secret. Let’s explore the hidden benefits of Korean food — both for your health and your waistline.
  1. Why Kimchi Prevents Obesity
  2. Bibimbap, Korea’s Best Diet Food
  3. Why Korean BBQ (Kalbi) is Great for Any Diet
  4. Bokkeumbap: A Look At Healthy Korean Fried Rice
  5. How to Lose Weight With Kimchi Stew
  6. Gochujang, Korea’s Healthiest Diet Condiment