Jokbal is a specialized version of its distant cousin bossam, but this time, the succulent and tender meat comes from a pig’s most hardworking limbs: its feet.
Jokbal translates into “pigs’ feet,” a food concept that many non-Koreans often can’t comprehend. But to those who may quickly dismiss it as an outlandish food dish, jokbal falls into the same tradition of the French pied de cochon, Italian cotechino, and British pork trotters.
The broth in which jokbal is cooked gives it its seasoning and flavor. Typically, the pork will be spiced with sugar (often black taffy), soybean sauce, and ginger, but every restaurant (and halmoni) undoubtedly has its own special blend and recipe. After simmering for hours, the meat will be fully cooked. The bones are removed, and the meat is cut into thick slices. Jokbal is then served with your typical bossam condiments: lettuce wraps, kimchi, garlic, jalapeños, and ssamjang.
Because the pigs’ feet are filled with gelatins, jokbal is great for the skin and helps prevent wrinkles. Also, jokbal is known to detoxicate alcohol, meaning it’s perfect for those awful hangovers in the morning.
In Seoul, the neighborhood of Jangchung-dong is famous for its large number of jokbal restaurants. One such establishment, Jangchung-Dong Wong Jokbal, opened a branch in L.A.’s Koreatown about five years ago and was voted the “Best D.I.Y. Pig’s Foot Feast” of 2011 by LA Weekly. Here, you can get your jokbal fix of tender gelatinous meats wrapped in crunchy lettuce without any judgmental onlookers thinking, “Pigs’ feet?!”
Jangchung-Dong Wong Jokbal
425 S Western Ave Ste E
Los Angeles, CA 90020