Soju Is The Most Traditional Drink To Pair With This Pork Dish

In South Korea, drinking while out and about is a prominent part of the culture as a social activity complete with etiquette and tradition. While bars and clubs similar to those in the United States do exist, restaurants are a particularly popular spot to enjoy an alcoholic drink. So naturally, the nation offers some delicious bites to go along with a boozy night out.

For meat-eaters, what could be a better drinking accompaniment than tender bites of slow-cooked pork? In Korea, a rendition of such a delectable dish is called jokbal, which is crafted from pork feet and traditionally accompanied by soju, a rice and grain distilled alcohol that's Korea's drink of choice. Soju's lighter character and touch of booze perfectly balance jokbal's meaty nature. And soju's alcoholic strength, which can range from 25% ABV to a full-proof 40% ABV, encourages sipping or shooting. Meanwhile, jokbal's aromatic cooking liquid introduces notes of salty, sweet, and savory, all crafting a combination that encourages another round.

Sample soju with pork feet for a traditional Korean combination

It's no surprise jokbal's pork-forward flavor emerged as a go-to drinking complement. The dish is served with beer or makgeolli — a lower alcohol rice beverage —  however, it's stiffer soju that's the most traditional pairing.

To craft such a perfect drinking food, the feet of the pigs are slow-braised in a soy- and sugar-based liquid and flavored with a pungent spice mix, comprised of aromatics, apples, and dried spices. Once cooked for the ideal duration to a balanced level of chew, pork flavor, and fat, the food is sliced into large bites. Drinkers wrap the meat in lettuce leaf and serve with a side of spicy and pungent shrimp sauce. Kept skin-on, the cut can take on a range of consistencies, which keeps bites varied in between rounds of drinks. Especially with Korea's penchant for meat, there's no surprise that it's the kind of finger food that perfectly satisfies once the buzz kicks in.