A sandwich inspired by the Cubano, but with Korean ingredients swapped in! A Cubano sandwich is a perfect combo of tart, savory, sweet, chewy, crispy, and cheesy, and I love interpreting this sandwich with similar flavors from different cultures. I thought a natural swap would be Korean flavors. Mainly because I love any time I can use Kimchi instead of pickles! The sandwich came out absolutely phenomenal with some elements of the Cubano mingling with the Korean pork and kimchi! The tender savory and a little spicy pork really carried the sandwich in a whole new direction!
The inspiration for this sandwich
Almost exactly 8 years ago I made an Italian sandwich inspired by a Cubano and was excited to try this same idea with other cuisines, but clearly I wasn’t THAT excited because here we are 8 years later doing it again for the first time. The way I was actually inspired this time was that I was throwing together a salad one weeknight with whatever I had in the fridge, and trying to make it more interesting than a salad can honestly be. I added some ham, kimchi, and mustard and realized how well these things all went together. I immediately added this sandwich to my schedule.
Marinating the pork
For the roast pork aspect of the sandwich, I cooked some pork shoulder chops in a bulgogi style marinade for a few hours on low heat. I listed my simple marinade below, but if you want a more authentic one, I often use Maangchi’s recipe as a guide.
Building the Korean Cubano
Mustard and swiss first. Staring out like a normal Cubano!
Then the pork, ham, and kimchi. Wow this thing looks amazing already!
Cooking the Korean Cubano
Make sure to cook with a weight on top so its gets all pressed and toasted up. I like using cast iron to get a nice crispy edge on the bread.
Slicing it is always my favorite part… well eating it is my favorite part, but slicing it, that’s my SECOND favorite part. It’s when you see the cross section and get very excited to eat!
This thing came out awesome. All the flavors and textures were perfect.
It felt like a Cubano but had just enough Korean flavors to make it a true mash-up. It wasn’t leaning one way or the other, but right in the middle!
Twists on this sandwich
I have done a Korean inspired Reuben as well that I was pretty happy with! This would be pretty good if you made it with Korean style milk bread instead of the cuban roll I used. I also think it would be nice to do a gochujang honey mustard instead of just straight mustard like I used.
pork and marinade
- 4 boneless pork shoulder chops/steaks
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons gochujang
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 2 green onions sliced
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 large loaf cuban bread
- 1/4 cup mustard
- 8 slices swiss cheese
- 6 slices ham
- 1 cup kimchi
- butter for the pan
- Makes 2 sandwiches.
- Mix the marinade ingredients together. Put the pork into a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over them. Stir to coat evenly. Chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 275. Bake for 2 hours, flipping the meat once halfway through cooking.
- Cut the bread in half and then cut in the long way into a top and bottom bun.
- Spread the mustard evenly on all 4 pieces of bread.
- Top the bottom breads with 2 slices of cheese each, then 2 pieces of the roasted pork. Next top each with 3 slices of ham, then spread the kimchi over it evenly. Top with the remaining cheese and then the top piece of bread.
- Preheat a pan to medium heat and melt some butter into the pan. Add the sandwiches to the pan and top with a weight. Cover the pan to help the sandwich warm evenly.
- Flip the sandwiches when they brown on the first side and cook them on the other side covered with the weight on top.
- Once they are brown on both sides and heated throughout and the cheese is nice and melty, remove from heat, slice, and serve.