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Bulgogi (불고기; /bʊlˈɡɡ/ bool-GOH-gee;[2] from Korean bul-gogi [pul.ɡo.ɡi]), literally "fire meat", is a gui (구이; Korean-style grilled or roasted dish) made of thin, marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a barbecue or on a stove-top griddle. It is also often stir-fried in a pan in home cooking. Sirloin, rib eye or brisket are frequently used cuts of beef for the dish. The dish originated from northern areas of the Korean Peninsula, but is a very popular dish in South Korea where it can be found anywhere from upscale restaurants to local supermarkets as pan-ready kits.[3]

Bulgogi 2.jpg
Place of originKorea
Associated national cuisineKorean cuisine
Main ingredientsBeef
Food energy
(per 4 serving)
150 kcal (628 kJ)[1]
Similar dishesNeobiani, galbi, yakiniku
Korean name
Revised Romanizationbulgogi


Bulgogi came from the Korean word bul-gogi (불고기), consisting of bul ("fire") and gogi ("meat"). The compound word is derived from the Pyongan dialect, as the dish itself is a delicacy of Pyongan Province, North Korea.[4] After the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from Japanese forced occupation in 1945, the dish became popular in Seoul and other parts of South Korea, by refugees from Pyongan.[5] It was then listed in the 1947 edition of the Dictionary of the Korean Language, as meat grilled directly over a charcoal fire.[6]

In the Standard Korean Language Dictionary published by the National Institute of Korean Language, the word is listed as meat such as beef that is thinly sliced, marinated, and grilled over the fire.[7] The word is also included in English-language dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Oxford Dictionary of English.[8][2] Merriam-Webster dated the word's appearance in the American English lexicon at 1961.[8]


Bulgogi is believed to have originated during the Goguryeo era (37 BCE–668 CE), when it was originally called maekjeok (맥적, 貊炙), with the beef being grilled on a skewer.[9][10] It was called neobiani (너비아니), meaning "thinly spread" meat,[11] during the Joseon Dynasty and was traditionally prepared especially for the wealthy and the nobility.[12] In the medieval Korean history book Donggooksesi (동국세시), bulgogi is recorded under the name yeomjeok (염적), which means 'fire meat'. It was grilled barbecue-style on a hwaro grill on skewers, in pieces approximately 0.5 cm thick. Although it is no longer cooked skewered, this original type of bulgogi is today called bulgogi sanjeok (불고기 산적).

Preparation and servingEdit

Bulgogi, Korean grilled beef
Dwaeji-bulgogi (pork bulgogi) with rice
Bassak-bulgogi (Eonyang-style bulgogi)
Ttukbaegi-bulgogi (hot pot bulgogi)

Bulgogi is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef.[13] Before cooking, the meat is marinated to enhance its flavor and tenderness with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ground black pepper, and other ingredients such as scallions, ginger, onions or mushrooms, especially white button mushrooms or matsutake. Pureed pears and onions are often used as tenderizers. Sometimes, cellophane noodles are added to the dish, which varies by the region and specific recipe.[10][11]

Bulgogi is traditionally grilled, but pan-cooking has become popular as well. Whole cloves of garlic, sliced onions and chopped green peppers are often grilled or fried with the meat.[11] This dish is sometimes served with a side of lettuce or other leafy vegetable, which is used to wrap a slice of cooked meat, often along with a dab of ssamjang, or other side dishes, and then eaten together.[14]

In popular cultureEdit

Bulgogi is served in barbecue restaurants in Korea, and there are bulgogi-flavoured fast-food hamburgers sold at many South Korean fast-food restaurants. The hamburger patty is marinated in bulgogi sauce and served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and sometimes cheese.[15][16]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "bulgogi" 불고기. Korean Food Foundation (in Korean). Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b "bulgogi". Oxford Dictionary of English. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  3. ^ Kim, Violet (2015-08-13). "Food map: Eat your way around South Korea". CNN. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  4. ^ 이, 기문 (Winter 2006). "'bulgogi' iyagi" ‘불고기’ 이야기 (PDF). The New Korean Language Life. 16 (4): 77–83.
  5. ^ Gim, Girim (July 1949). "Saemarui imojeomo" 새말의 이모저모. Hakpung (in Korean). 2 (5): 19–33.
  6. ^ Korean Language Society (1947). Joseon mal keun sajeon 조선말큰사전 [Dictionary of the Korean Language] (in Korean). Seoul, Korea: Eulyoo Publishing. p. 1449. 불-고기【이】숯불에 얹어서 직접 구워 가면서 먹는 짐승의 고기.
  7. ^ "bulgogi" 불고기. Standard Korean Language Dictionary (in Korean). National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b "bulgogi". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  9. ^ The origin of bulgogi Archived 2010-02-01 at the Wayback Machine, official site of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, South Korea.
  10. ^ a b (in Korean) Bulgogi Archived June 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine at Encyclopedia of Korean Culture
  11. ^ a b c (in Korean) Bulgogi[permanent dead link] at Doosan Encyclopedia
  12. ^ "Archived copy" (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2011-05-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Bulgogi Archived 2012-03-08 at the Wayback Machine, Korean Spirit and Culture Project
  14. ^ (in Korean) Bulgogi Archived July 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Hanwoo Board
  15. ^ (in Korean) Bulgogi burger, Asia Today, 2009-09-11. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  16. ^ (in Korean) Upgrade burgers Archived August 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Hankook Ilbo, 2010-06-17.Retrieved 2010-06-27.

External linksEdit