International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Bulgogi

Bulgogi (Korean barbecue beef)

(Korean barbecued beef)

Image Creative Commons by debbietingzon

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Bulgogi is one of the best known of all Korean dishes. Originally cooked over a wood fire, bulgogi still tastes best with the smoky flavor of the grill. Use a fine grate over charcoal so the meat doesn't fall through.

When prepared in Korean homes or restaurants these days, the meat is often seared on a special curved broiler plate placed in the middle of the table. Each guest cooks his or her own to order.

Bulgogi is usually served with a variety of side dishes. A simple soy sauce-sesame oil dipping sauce is sometimes offered on the side.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Beef tenderloin or sirloin, partially frozen and sliced thinly across the grain -- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
  • Scallions, minced -- 2 or 3
  • Sugar -- 2 tablespoons
  • Garlic, minced -- 2-3 cloves
  • Sesame seeds (optional) -- 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper -- 1 teaspoon
  • Soy sauce -- 1/2 cup
  • Sesame oil -- 1 tablespoon
  • Red lettuce, separated into whole leaves -- 1 head
  • Hot cooked sticky rice -- 4 cups

Method

  1. Toss all the ingredients except for the lettuce and rice together in a large bowl and marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
  2. Heat a heavy skillet or hot plate without oil over medium-high heat. Drain any excess marinade from the beef. Add the beef to the hot skillet or hot plate in small batches and sear until just cooked through. Remove to a platter and repeat with the remaining meat.
  3. Serve bulgogi with the red leaf lettuce leaves and steamed sticky rice. Hold a leaf of lettuce in one palm, add a small portion of meat and top it with a bit of rice. Roll the lettuce leaf up and pop it in your mouth.

Bulgogi Variations

  • Dak Bulgogi (Korean barbecued chicken): Use chicken breast, butterflied and cut into chunks. Cut the amount of soy sauce in half and add 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
  • Fish or Seafood Bulgogi: Use half the amount of soy sauce and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of gochujang paste. Cut the fish or seafood into large pieces or leave whole. Reduce marinating time to anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Add a bit of pureed kiwi, pear or apple to the marinade for a touch of fruity sweetness. Other possible marinade additions include 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry or a touch of rice wine vinegar.

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