Bulgogi is popular Korean dish that is enjoyed by many all around the world. The word bulgogi is derived from two Korean words; bul means fire and gogi is the Korean term for meat. So a direct translation to bulgogi is fire meat. While Bulgogi sauce can be made spicy and hot, the fire refers to the cooking method, as it’s usually cooking over an open flame. Bulgogi is usually made with sirloin and other types of Korean beef, but sometimes it can be made with chicken (dak bulgogi) or pork (dwaeji bulgogi). The meat is then marinated in a bulgogi sauce that can differ by region.
In ancient times, bulgogi was a meal for the king, especially during the Joseon Dynasty. The origins of bulgogi and bulgogi sauce are not quite clear, but many believe that it started in 37 BC-688 AD during the Gorguryeo era. Research shows that this dish used to be called maekjeok and the Korean beef was grilled on a skewer. During the Joseon Dynasty, bulgogi went by the name of neobiari, which translated, to thinly spread. So while there have been slight changes in names and cooking techniques throughout the century, bulgogi meat and bulgogi is a recipe as old as time.
Traditional bulgogi sauce is made with garlic, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce. Other recipes for bulgogi sauce may use the ingredients of Asian pears, rice wine, honey and soy bean paste. What makes bulgogi sauce and the meal itself so popular is that it’s extremely versatile and can be made in a lot different ways. The purpose of the sauce is to be made as a marinade. This marinade adds extreme flavour and tenderness to the Korean beef.
Some people add onions and green peppers to the dish. A traditional dish will come with thin lettuce or sesame leaves, that diners will use to wrap the cooked bulgogi in. Others like to add bulgogi on top of rice. In modern South Korea there are dipping sauces that can be added to the meal. Peanut sauce is a popular choice amongst the younger generations. Dipping sauces can range from sweet to hot. Some people compare bulgogi to the taste of teriyaki, however for me they are totally different, and the taste of bulgogi is simply fantastic Being that it’s a quick and easy meal, it can be eaten as a meal, appetizer or snack. There are no set times to where Koreans enjoy a meal of bulgogi. In South Korea, you can find fast-food bulgogi burgers, made with bulgogi sauce.
For nutritional value, bulgogi sauce and the Korean beef that it is made with is extremely healthy. As with all Asian food, bulgogi uses lots of vegetables and meat. Flavouring for this dish is made with herbs, spices and oils. The optional add-ons such as lettuce, dipping sauce or rice are also high in nutritional value. The longest part of making the dish is the marinate time for the meat, but prep for the bulgogi sauce is only about 20 minutes. After the meat is done marinating, just cook over medium high heat and your done. You’ll have a delicious and yet extremely healthy meal in no time. For more information visit My Korean Food website