Korean barbecued ribs.
What Makes Korean Barbecue Sauce Different From The American Version
By Cristine Struble
Although Korean and American barbecue sauces both have sweet notes, Korean sauce uses soy sauce as its base, compared to ketchup-based American sauces.
Korean barbecue sauce works well on various proteins and often has a bold punch of umami, balancing the acid from apple cider vinegar with the sweetness of Asian pear.
Another key difference between the two sauces is their overall thickness. Korean sauces are more oil-forward, while the liquid in American sauces is less dense and creamy.
American barbecue sauce is often brushed onto food or used as a condiment, but Korean barbecue sauce can be used as a marinade, during the cooking process, or as a condiment.
However, because Korean barbecue sauce tends to have a more liquid quality, it's not the best sauce for dunking food.
The salt component in the soy sauce penetrates the fibers and helps break them down, tenderizing proteins and making Korean sauce perfect for marinades.
When used during the cooking process, the sugars and spices in Korean barbecue sauce can help make a satisfying glaze or give a tacky quality to the surface.
As the heat hits the sugars, that slight caramelization can seal in and create flavor, similar to the crusty bark that forms on meat when using American barbecue sauce.