Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bulgogi (Korean BBQ)

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to live overseas in Korea for a few years while my father was stationed at Osan air base.  Many of my fondest childhood memories are of the experiences while living there, especially the food.  Here is a little bit about one of my favorite Korean meals, bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef).

One of the first things you notice when you step foot in Korea is the smell of garlic. It's on everyone's breath and seeping from their pores, literally.  It's in everything.  Maybe this is why to this day I can't have enough garlic in my foods. I love the stuff!  If a recipe calls for one clove, I'll throw in two or three. My husband will remind me when I've gone overboard with the garlic ;)  I love that guy.

I remember eating bulgogi at hole in the wall restaurants all over downtown Songtan, which is just outside the gates of Osan AFB.   The server would bring out tons of little dishes of 'things'...most of the vegetable variety.  I recall most of it being pickled or super spicy so I would just skip this stuff and wait for the main course.  The garlicky soy sauce marinated beef would be brought out and cooked on a grill right on your table.  Being about 6 years old at the time, I thought it was pretty cool to cook your own food right there in front of you!

Once the meat was cooked, traditionally you're supposed to assemble it on a lettuce leaf with steamed rice, red pepper paste (gochu-jang) and any of the assorted 'things' in those little dishes.  Whole garlic cloves were sometimes served and I remember my grandfather snacking on these tasty morsels until my dad asked him what the heck he was doing.  He was under the impression they were almonds.  Geez, I hope I never lose my taste buds!  

Bulgogi (Korean BBQ)
From my mom, Barrie
·       1 lb. beef, not too lean
·       2 T soy sauce
·       1 T sugar
·       1 T sesame oil
·       1 T sesame salt (ground sesame seeds and sea or Kosher salt)
·       1/8 t. black pepper
·       4 med green onions, coarsely chopped
·       3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·       1 t. fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
·       2 T water, rice wine or white wine
Cut beef into thin slices about 2” square x 1/8 “ thick.
Marinate beef in remaining ingredients for up to 1 ½ hours. Grill (especially good over charcoal) and serve with:  Red leaf lettuce or kkaennip (sesame leaves)
Rice, Garlic slices, Namul (assorted marinated veggies), Koch’ujang

Marinated beef bulgogi.  I typically use flank steak sliced on a bias.

Bulgogi tastes best grilled, but when I'm feeling lazy I use the broiler. 


  1. Meghan that sounds delicious. I think I'll make it for dinner tonight.