Bulgogi is believed to have originated from Goguryeo, when it was originally called maekjeok (맥적), with the beef being grilled on a skewer. It was called neobiani, meaning “thinly spread” meat, in the Joseon Dynasty and was traditionally prepared especially for the wealthy and the nobility.
Preparation and Serving Bulgogi
Bulgogi is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef. Before cooking, the meat is marinated to enhance its flavour and tenderness with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper and other ingredients such as spring onions, ginger, onions or mushrooms, especially white button mushrooms or matsutake. Sometimes, cellophane noodles are added to the dish, which varies by the region and specific recipe.
Bulgogi is traditionally grilled, but pan-cooking has become popular as well. Whole cloves of garlic, sliced onions and chopped green peppers are often grilled or fried with the meat. This dish is sometimes served with a side of lettuce or other leafy vegetable, which is used to wrap a slice of cooked meat, often along with a dab of Ssamjang, or other side dishes, and then eaten together. Bulgogi is served in barbecue restaurants in Korea, and there are bulgogi flavoured fast-food hamburgers sold at many South Korean fast-food restaurants. The hamburger patty is marinated in bulgogi sauce and served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and sometimes cheese. It is similar to a Teriyaki Burger in flavour.
- 900 g thinly sliced beef (rib eye or top sirloin)
- 3 spring onions, cut into 5 cm pieces
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 10 mushroom caps, sliced (optional)
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
- 2 tablespoons garlic
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons grated Asian pear (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. (If using packaged pre-sliced meat, separate the slices. If cutting the beef at home, partially freeze for about an hour to firm it up for easier slicing. Cut across the grain into about 3 mm thick slices.)
- Add the meat and vegetables to the marinade and toss gently to combine everything well.
- Marinate the meat for about an hour.
- Grill on a charcoal or gas grill or pan fry in a skillet over high heat until slightly caramelised. (Preheat and lightly oil with sesame oil before adding the meat. If pan frying, do not crowd the skillet.)