1.003 Bulgogi on Romaine

-Cycle 1, Item 3-
8 (Fri) January 2010

Bulgogi on Romaine


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

Bulgogi is a Korean beef dish.  It consists of thinly sliced beef in a sweet soy marinade, often with minced garlic, onions, scallions, or other basic aromatics.  The name derives from the words "bul" (불), which literally means "fire" in Korean and refers to the traditional method of cooking the meat over an open flame, and "gogi" (고기), which means "meat." Traditionally, the meat is beef, but variations with pork and seafood can also be found.  After it's cooked, the meat is often wrapped with fresh greens (e.g., red lettuce or perilla leafs) into a small bundle and eaten by hand.  One Korea's most iconic dishes.

My personal observations suggest that, although the dish has become a popular mainstay in Korean BBQ restaurants overseas, its presence on local menus has dwindled in recent years.  This is probably due to: (a) the exorbitant prices of Korean beef, aka "hanwoo" (한우), which can range anywhere from 4,000 won per 100 g to 12,000 won (about US$45 per pound), and those are supermarket prices; (b) consumer dislike/distrust of imported beef, particularly American beef in the wake of the mad cow scares in recent years; and/or (c) a growing belief that good beef is better consumed as is and that marinades are more appropriate for cheap cuts that require masking or tenderizing of some sort.  Whatever the reason, the availability of beef bulgogi here in Korea now seems to be limited to (i) expensive hanwoo specialty restaurants where a serving of 150 g can run in excess of 50,000 won, (ii) restaurants catering to tourists, (iii) large scale cafeterias at lunch time using cheap meat, or (iv) at home.


  1. i think 3-star bulgogi is pretty typical, being one of those things that people take for granted.

  2. i disagree, I think bulgogi should actually be 4 star typical, if not 5 but that's only because you should only have it if it's done right, not as a default... but you're right, ppl take it for granted

  3. Here's something that the other you and/or the other readers of this blog maybe could help clarify:

    Although, during my time as an exchange student in Korea, I had bulgogi tons and tons of times, not even one did I have it as a BBQ meal. Instead I had them cooked in those stone pot (돌솥? unsure about the spelling). Or is that maybe a special variety of bulgogi? (돌솥 불고기?). I'm also pretty confused about the fact that I can't remember seeing 불고기 being offered at the local BBQ places me and my friends requented. Al I can remember eating there is 삼결살 and 갈비...

  4. because the focus of bulgogi is on both the meat and the broth/marinade/juices, it's usually not grilled directly over heat, BBQ style, like other meats. the dolsot (돌솥) pot is one way to make sure that the broth/marinade/juices aren't wasted. another method is to use a special conical bulgogi pan that collects the runoff at the bottom (see these days, there's a dry style called "gwangyang bulgogi" that doesn't really have broth/marinade/juices, so it's grilled, but it's not very common (and very expensive).