What is the first thing that comes to mind, when I think Korean food? Probably Korean BBQ. Korean BBQ is called ‘Gogigui’ in Korean. It means ‘grilled meat’. Bulgogi is a delicious Korean BBQ that comes with a marinated sauce and is cooked with healthy vegetables. According to Wikipedia, it is listed at number 23 on the World's 50 most delicious foods readers' poll compiled by CNN Go in 2011. Surprisingly, it is considered as one of the most popular foods in the world, although you might not have heard of it.
Recently friends asked me about some newly opened Korean BBQ restaurants in Melbourne. And also there are articles about it in Broadsheet and Epicure in The Age. So I thought I would find out what it is all about.
I can tell you why I like it. Korean BBQ is very social food, freshly cooked and served direct to the table. Eating is a performance. There is a grill in the centre of the table with a circle or rectangular air extract suspended above it. Hanging pipes are tangled on the ceiling and secret cooking gargets are installed under the table. As Broadsheet said, one of the new Korean restaurants is like ‘the set of a Stanley Kubrick film’.
Friends or family sit around the table. Cooking, eating and drinking are a form of abundance. Eating and drinking mean a sense of relaxing, gathering and sharing from pre historic times. It is a delicious reward after a long hard working day. Other cultures would have similar things: people socialize with wonderful food and wine on the table.
However, Bulgogi is different from the other ordinary dinner parties or typical western BBQs. Korean people enjoy freshly cooked food. One thing I know is they love cooking almost everything on their table while eating. You can find easily people cooking food in a large pot or pan in some Korean restaurants. On the other hand, most western BBQs can be served after finishing cooking. My Korean mum wouldn’t like it because it gets cold.
Here, I cook Bulgogi in my favourite way. This is my menu for people who visit my house for the first time. They finally understand what Korean food is about and it gives them a great Korean social experience.
Prep time 60 mins
Cooking time 30 mins +
800g of scotch fillet beef
2 spring onions, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
12 ~15 loose-leaf lettuce for wrap
2 tbsp Korean Samjang ( Korean bean sauce for wrap, you can find it in Korean grocery shop)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds for garnish
1 cup of rice to cook
4 spring onions, finely sliced
½ onion, grated
1 Asian pear or 2 kiwi fruit, grated
¼ cup/4 tbsp, soy sauce
¼ cup/4 tbsp, sugar
2 tbsp, sesame oil
2 tsp ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1. To make the marinade, place all ingredients of the marinade in a large bowl. Mix together thoroughly.
2. Discard any excess fat from the scotch fillet and slice as thin as possible. If the beef is left in the freezer for 15 mins, it makes it easy to slice them thin. But it is up to you how thin you want. Add all beef to marinade and stir to coat. Leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight to allow the flavours to permeate and the meat to soften.
3. To cook steamed rice, wash the rice well, add double water of rice quantity. For example, two cups of water is for one cup of rice.
4. Cut all vegetable into long thin strips. Similar shape of vegetable makes evenly mixed all when eating.
5. Set portable gas stove on the table. Heat a frying pan with a bit of vegetable oil and add the marinated beef, sliced onion, capsicum, carrot and spring onion. If you don’t have a portable gas stove, cook food in your stove, bring them to the table.
6. Eat and cook until all food is finished
How to eat:
Take one lettuce leaf on your plate and place a bit of cooked beef, vegetable, steam rice and Samjang. Wrap food up tightly in leaf and take it in one or two bites.