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Learn to Make Bulgogi, a Traditional Korean Meat Dish

The history behind this well-known and popular food.

Today’s dinner menu will consist of meat at our house.  One of our favorite meat dishes is called bulgogi. The name explains everything about the dish: “bul’ means fire or flame, and “gogi” means meat.

Over the years, bulgogi has become a distinctive name for very well-known Korean meat dish. Bulgogi isn’t the actual name for the dish itself–it refers to the way of cooking–but for a long time, that’s what it has been called.

Beef is the most common type of bulgogi dish, but other kinds of meat can be used: pork, poultry, seafood and even vegetables can be included.     

We believe bulgogi originated from Goguryeo era which was between 37 B.C. – 668 A.D. When meats were consumed during that period, marinated meats were skewered and barbecued over an open flame. The technique was called maek-jeonk, and word “maek” represented “Guguryeo.”

Meat consumption decreased enormously due to influence of Buddhism during the Silla and Baekje Dynasties, but the Mongolian invasion brought meat dishes back to the table during end of Goryeo era.

According to the cookbook “Eum-Sik DeeMeeBang (Food Recipe Book)” edited in 1600, bulgogi was a common dish. Bulgogi and galbi (rib) dishes are always served at Korean dinner parties.    

There are many recipes for bulgogi, but I would like to share my grandmother’s recipe.

Beef Bulgogi (serves four)

Ingredients:

  • Beef (preferably sirloin, cut paper-thin; I usually have this done at Raley’s) 700g (about one and a half pounds)
  • 3 Tbs chopped garlic
  • One stalk green onion, chopped
  • One small onion, sliced
  • 8 Tbs soy sauce
  • 6 Tbs sugar
  • 4 Tbs sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs rice wine
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbs ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs sesame seeds (optional)
  • 5-6 mushrooms (optional)

Marinate the meat with rice wine and sugar for at least 30 minutes. 

Mix all the remaining ingredients except sliced onions and mushrooms. 

Pour the sauce mixture over the marinated meat.  Make sure all the meat is evenly soaked with sauce mixture.

Marinate for at least two or three hours, or even overnight.

Use a grill or frying pan on high heat to cook the meat.

Once the meat starts to turn brown, add the sliced onion and mushrooms.

Steve Liddick February 14, 2011 at 11:41 AM
I love bulgogi! Thanks for the recipe. Over the years (and many moves) I lost the cookbook I bought in Korea. Fortunately I still have my sweet and sour pork recipe.
Cody Kitaura (Editor) February 15, 2011 at 02:06 AM
Thanks for the comment, Steve. Do any local restaurants compare to the food you had in Korea?

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