> Korean Food top10 > Bulgogi > Introduction
In the 1950s of Korea, some restaurants offered roast meat
after cutting into thin slices, which helped shorten cooking
time and make meat tender, as thick meat was generally tough
and not grilled fast. Later, cooking utensil was changed
from grill to pan, enabling guests to put boiled rice into
beef gravy gathered on the pan. Thus, ordinary people
who could not afford the expensive meat often could eat
meat and rice more economically. This method of roasting
meat slice on a pan has continued and expanded, which has
become bulgogi of today.
Bulgogi, well known overseas
Bulgogi and Galbigui (grilled beef ribs) are the most favored
foods of the Koreans. Of all the Korean dishes, perhaps
bulgogi is most widely known overseas. Bulgogi not
only represents Korean food but also symbolizes the food
roasting culture of Korea. As bulgogi is not pungent,
foreigners who experience the food first time can enjoy
its taste easily. Through bulgogi, garlic and soybean
paste that are the main ingredients of bulgogi condiments
can be also experienced.
Roasting meat while seasoning them on-site is not the only
way of cooking bulgogi. ‘Hot pepper paste bulgogi’
is a kind of bulgogi cooked by storing meat in hot pepper
paste for some time before roasting them. In the past,
there was ‘soybean paste bulgogi’ but it has
faded away since the method of using hot pepper paste was
introduced. Pork can be also roasted after seasoning
or burying them in hot pepper paste.
Foods accompanied to bulgogi
Normally bulgogi is eaten along with kimchi and ssam (wrapping
in lettuce or leafy vegetable). In many cases, Korean foods
are not taken as a single dish but taken together with other
foods. This habit has been cultivated through long
experience that certain combinations of foods, when taken
together, bring about harmony and synergy effect in taste
To eat with ssam, bulgogi is laid on lettuce or leafy vegetable
and added with a little soybean paste before wrapping and
putting it into mouth. Vegetables mainly used for
ssam are lettuce and green perilla, and sometimes crown
daisy, dandelion and aster leaves are used.
The custom of eating ssam is a unique culture found only
in some areas of Mongolia in addition to Korea. 'Ssamjang'
(ssam paste) has been developed not long ago, which is prepared
by mixing soybean paste with hot pepper paste in a suitable
proportion to generate best taste of ssam.
Taking rice, vegetables and ssam paste together with bulgogi
will not only help achieve harmonized nutrition but also
remove greasy taste arising from dining on meat. Besides
ssam, kimchi is also a desirable side dish to accompany
bulgogi, as it helps reduce fatty taste of meat.