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Bulgogi is the term used for marinated barbecued beef. It is a Korean dish, and some variants may also use chicken or pork instead of meat.


The literal meaning of ‘bulgogi’ is ‘fire meat’ in Korean. This refers to the method of cooking in which the food is grilled over an open flame.


Korean barbecue is called gogi gui, and is a Korean method of grilling beef, pork, chicken or any other kind of meat. The grilled meat is made and served from gas or charcoal grills that have been set up at the diner’s table itself, or in portable stoves that can be brought to the diners’ tables. Galbi is the term used for the famous Korean barbecued beef ribs. Korean barbecue also includes many other kinds of marinated and non-marinated meat dishes. It is an important part of Korean cuisine, which has its roots in the nomadic traditions of the Korean peninsula and southern Manchuria. 


History of Bulgogi

The dish is known to have originated during the Goguryeo era (37 BC–668 AD). At that time it was prepared by grilling beef on a skewer, and was called Maekjeok. It later evolved into a special dish being prepared for the King, and finally got its current form in present day Korean cuisine.


Preparation of Bulgogi

For the standard Bulgogi recipes, sirloin or other beef pieces are sliced thinly. The meat is marinated with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil and sugar, as well as mushrooms. Marinating the meat enhances the flavor and tenderness. The meat is then mixed with whole cloves of garlic, sliced onions and green peppers, and is grilled. It is also common to pan cook it instead of grilling. 


Serving Bulgogi

It is served as such or wrapped in a leafy vegetable like red lettuce. It is served with side dishes.  It is often served with rice and hot pepper paste.


The dish is popularly served in barbecue restaurants in South Korea. The fast food restaurants in Korea also offer bulgogi flavored hamburgers. The hamburger is marinated in bulgogi sauce. It is served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese.


Bulgogi Recipe Variants

The recipes vary with the difference in ingredients used for preparing it.


  • A popular variant of Bulgogi is pan cooked instead of grilled.
  • Dak bulgogi is the variant made of chicken instead of beef.
  • Dwaeji bulgogi is the variant which is made of pork
  • Other varieties may have variations in seasonings from the standard dish. In some local variants, cellophane noodles are added to the dish.


Bulgogi Recipes-Nutritional Facts

It is suggested to beef in the preparation of bulgogi, which is a good source of protein, potassium and essential amino acids. The spices and condiments used aid digestion.