Food & Drink Around The World: All About Bulgogi

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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.

Chicken/Dak Bulgogi
Pork/Dwaeji Bulgogi

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.


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