Carlos's transformation of Korean Pulled Pork

Submitted by:
Carlos D. Londoño Sulkin, Regina, Canada
Sociocultural Anthropology, Indigenous Amazonian peoples, Morality

Image Source: Author


2 hunks pork shoulder, about 4.5 pounds apiece, preferably with bone and skin on
3 or 4 tablespoons aniseed, ground
1 cup white sugar
10-15 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups strong brewed coffee
3rd of a cup of salt
Hot chili powder or other spicy heat source

0. I usually make two hunks of bone-in pork shoulder, so that there’s plenty left over for several meals.

1. Traditional recipes call for mixing one cup of salt and one cup of sugar. I have found those amounts to result in a brutally salty pork, so I’ve reduced the mix to 1/3rd cup of salt and 1 cup of white sugar. A further innovation lies in that I’ve added to that 2 or 3 tablespoons of crushed aniseed. (I powder it with mortar and pestle, or if using star aniseed, with a coffee grinder.)

2. Cover the pork with the mix, rubbing it in, and refrigerate it. The best results for me have been when I let the pork marinate for three days or so, but it could be as little as six hours. If you do go for the longer marinating period, flip the pork over every 24 hours. (I once froze it all for about two weeks in a deep freezer, and that worked beautifully, too. No flipping, in that case.)

3. When you’re ready to cook, dump the gooey marinade and scrape excess marinade from the pork. One good option - not absolutely necessary, but it adds a nice touch - is to sear/seal the pork on a hot barbecue or pan, for about two minutes per surface, say 8 minutes or so. Then toss the pork into a roasting pan, cover it, and bake it for 4.5 to 6 hours (depending on how big your pork shoulder is) at 300 Fahrenheit. Baste every hour.

4. When it is done, remove the pork from the oven and let it rest for half an hour or so, and then go to town on it with a couple of forks or with your hands, separating the fibers of meat. It should be very easy. Remove the skin and bits of fat, chop them up on a cutting board, and toss them back in; they really add to the glory of the experience. (If the pork’s too fat or for some reason you want to lower the calorie count, get rid of the white fat sticking to the underside of the skin. DO NOT waste that skin, though…it is flavorful and beautiful.)

5. The traditional recipe calls at that point for you to toss lots of brown sugar on top of the pulled pork - about 8 spoonfuls per hunk - and roast it for 15 minutes at 500 F, so that it forms a glaze. That has NEVER, alas, worked for me. What HAS worked beautifully is dumping all the pork and drippings out of the roasting pan, tossing in the brown sugar, and melting it on the stove top.

6. THEN I throw the pulled pork into the melted sugar and mix it all up vigorously in the roasting pan. At that point, I throw in a cup or two of strong brewed coffee (to which I’ve added half a teaspoonful of hot chili powder, optional), and toss everything around so the whole mess is coated in sugar, coffee, and spice.

7. It’s ready to eat!

Great with white crusty rolls or good hamburger rolls, with a good coleslaw on the side.


I was watching food porn with my wife some years ago when the recipe for Korean Pulled Pork came up. I tried the original recipe a couple of times, and then decided to play with it, adding the aniseed, coffee, and hot spice components. It came out beautifully.

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