The Bulgogi, popular and succulent
BBQ World Tour #7 - In 2020, Kokko transforms into a globe-trotter and offers you a "BBQ World Tour" to discover the history of grilling, smoking and roasting through different gastronomies. For this seventh stage, we set off again on the Asian side, this time in South Korea. Put on your gloves, heat the coal and install the grills: let's go!
The Bulgogi tradition
The Korean barbecue, Bulgogi, comes from the words "bul" meaning fire and "gogi" meaning meat, and therefore literally translates as "meat on fire" or rather, "meat cooked on fire". This traditional dish of Korean cuisine can be found everywhere in the streets of Seoul. Like Braai, the South African barbecue, meat is the main focus of Korean barbecue, mainly beef and pork. For the former, we opt for tender and not too fatty pieces such as fondue meat, rump steak or tenderloin. For pork, it will be more like breast or loin. With no added fat, Bulgogi is a healthy and tasty dish.
The preparation of the Korean barbecue
Before being grilled, the meat is cut into very thin strips and marinated for a long time to give it maximum flavour. On the beef side, it is dipped in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, oil or sesame seeds, chilli pepper and garlic. For pork, ginger and chilli paste (gojujang) are used to spice up the marinade.
The Bulgogi: a convivial barbecue
The marinated meat is then cooked on a device placed in the centre of the table. Placed on charcoal, it takes the form of a large circular plate which is embedded in the table above the burning embers. Like the Mookata in Thailand or the Japanese Yakiniku, each guest cooks their own slices of meat. These thin grilled slices are served with soup, rice, but also with delicious banchan(s) with a wide variety of flavours and aromas, as well as many condiments and sauces with garlic and chilli pepper in particular.
Bulgogi is eaten with the traditional Korean metal chopsticks to place the slices of meat in sesame leaves - also called shiso - accompanied by condiments, banchan, rice, etc. before rolling them up like nems - or rather fajitas - to gobble them up. If you don't have shiso leaves, you can use salad leaves. To water the Bulgogi, suju, a Korean alcohol made from bamboo or rice is traditionally consumed... in moderation!
The variety of Banchan to accompany the Bulgogi
These side dishes typical of Korean cuisine are served in small bowls with an average of 5 banchan(s) per meal. The most famous, Kimchi, is prepared with fermented vegetables, usually Chinese cabbage spiced with salt and chilli. Among the most common banchan(s) is also Jorim, which can be tofu, lotus root, eggs, etc. simmered in broth and well seasoned. You can also try Namul, a set of marinated, sautéed or steamed vegetables that are seasoned with sesame oil, garlic, onion, chillies, salt, vinegar and soy sauce, or Jeon, a type of pancake made from meat, mushrooms, seafood or vegetables that are mixed with pancake batter before frying.