A Guide To Korean Barbecue

Bulgogi, or Korean barbecue, is very easy to make at home, and delicious, too.

Bulgogi, also known as Korean barbecue or Korean sesame steak, is one of the most popular Korean dishes here in the US, and can be found at any Korean restaurant. It is also a simple and fun to make (and even more fun to eat!) dish you can easily prepare in your own home. It consists of strips of marinated beef, grilled, then wrapped in thin pancakes (like the ones served with the Chinese dish, moo shi pork) or in lettuce leaves. (A perfect dish for all you carb watchers!) Although beef is the traditional meat used in bulgogi, you could easily substitute chicken (for a dish known as dak bulgogi), pork, or even certain types of seafood. The meat is then served with a dipping sauce - usually a spicy one, although it is not known whether the dish gets its name (bulgogi means "fire meat" in Korean) from the spiciness of the sauce or from the method used to cook the meat.

To make bulgogi, you must first prepare a marinade as follows:

2 1/2 tbsp. sugar

2 green onions, minced

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. minced ginger root

1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. sesame seed oil

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (place seeds in a heated frying pan, stir until just starting to brown)

Mix all of the ingredients, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then slice 1 lb. of steak in ¼" thick slices against the grain (it helps if the beef is still partially frozen - if using a piece of meat that has entirely thawed, place it in the freezer for ½ an hour before slicing) and marinate it in the above mixture for at least an hour in the refrigerator.



While the meat is marinating, you may prepare the grill. The meat may then be threaded on skewers (if using wooden skewers, be sure to pre-soak them in water for at least 20 minutes so they do not burn) or placed in a grill basket and grilled on both sides until evenly browned. (Be careful the sweet marinade does not catch on fire.) If you do not wish to grill the meat, you can quickly stir-fry it in a dry, heated pan or wok.

Once the meat is cooked, you can then wrap it in a moo shi pancake (or substitute a tortilla or similar flat bread) or a lettuce leaf. You can top it with thin sliced carrots, green onions, or a little chopped cilantro if you like. Steamed sticky rice is also traditional - or you could skip the wrap step and just serve the beef strips over rice. If you do choose to make bulgogi wraps, however, be sure to serve them with a dipping sauce like the following one:

3 Tbsp. canola (or vegetable) oil

1 tsp. garlic, minced

2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

1 green onion, minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

And if the bulgogi itself is not enough of a meal for you, why not try the variation known as bibimbap? Bibimbap is basically bulgogi meat served over a bowl of steamed rice with the addition of some steamed vegetables like spinach and bean sprouts, then topped with sesame oil, hot sauce, and a fried egg. You stir it all up, breaking the egg yolk, and creating a delicious blend of tastes and textures.

However you choose to prepare it, bulgogi in all of its variations is a deservedly popular crowd pleaser. Try some yourself, and see!

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