"Bulgogi” (also spelled “bulgoki” and “pulgogi") is Korean barbecue; the term literally means “fire meat” or “flesh on fire.” The meat is barbecued over charcoal and usually marinated in soy sauce, sugar, and other ingredients.
It is not known who first put this barbecued beef between two slices of bread, creating the first “bulgogi burger” or “bulgoki burger.” The Korean-owned Burger Tex chain in Austin, Texas, began in 1973 and was one of the earliest to offer a “bulgoki burger.”
Bulgogi (pronounced [pulɡoɡi] in Korean), a variety of barbecued beef, is one of Korea’s most popular meat dishes.
Bulgogi is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime cut of beef. The meat is marinated with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and other ingredients such as scallions and mushrooms, especially white button mushrooms or shiitake. Sometimes, cellophane noodles are added in the dish which varies by region and specific recipe. It is marinated to enhance the flavor and its tenderness.
Bulgogi is traditionally grilled, but broiling or pan-cooking is common as well. A practice common at Korean BBQ, whole cloves of garlic, sliced onions, and chopped green peppers are often grilled or cooked at the same time. 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 as a whole.
Bulgogi literally means “fire meat” in Korean. The term is also applied to variations such as dak bulgogi (chicken dish) or dweji bulgogi (pork dish), although the seasonings are different.
There is also a bulgogi fast-food hamburger sold at many Korean fast food restaurants. The hamburger patty is marinated in bulgogi sauce and served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and sometimes cheese. It is similar to the teriyaki burger in flavour.
Basically, beef is the most important ingredient for bulgogi, along with sugar (1 T), Cheongju (wine), and pear juice. Pear juice has an effect on making its taste more attractive. Aside from its main ingredients, spices are quite important in enjoying its excellent flavor. The following recipe is used to make bulgogi marinade.
Soy sauce : 5 T
Chopped garlic : 2 T
A leek : small one is more recommended. Just one is enough.
Beef stock : soup of boiled beef. The soup plays a role in making the marinade taste more soft and tidy.
Powdered sesame mixed with salt
Brown sugar : 1 T
Olson’s Orient Guide
by Harvey S. Olson
Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott Company
Pg. 300 (JAPAN, TOKYO, Seiko-en):
Korean food at its very best. Try pulgogi, the Korean barbecue of beef strips, cooked in ginger-soy-sake sauce.
1 April 1964, Willoughby (OH) News-Herald, pg. 9, col. 6:
Kimchee is a combination of Chinese cabbage, onions, turnips and spices, while bulgoki is thinly sliced beef cooked over charcoal, also with many spices.
(South Korean food at the New York World’s Fair—ed.)
2 April 1970, New York (NY) Times, “In Korea, It’s Not a Meal Unless There’s Kimchi on the Table” by Craig Claiborne, pg. 61:
2 pounds boneless rib steak or fillet mignon cut into the thinnest possible slices
3 tablespoons grated fresh pear, preferably, or fresh apple
3 tablespoons sake (chun jung)
6 tablespoons toasted ground sesame seeds (see recipe)
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 cup chopped scallion
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional).
1. Place the meat in a mixing bowl and add the grated pear and shake. (This is to tenderize the meat). Stir the meat to distribute the pear mixture. Let stand an hour or longer.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients. Just before serving, pour half the soy mixture over the meat and stir to distribute. Barbecue the strips of meat quickly, a few at a time, over hot charcoal. Or cook the meat, a little at a time, in a hot skillet just until it loses color. It is important not to cook this meat until it is dry. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side as a dip.
Yield: Six servings.
3 April 1970, New York (NY) Times, “Seoul Restaurant With a Dazzling View” by Craig Claiborne, pg 26:
BULGOGI, the Korean barbecued beef dish, is the most popular dish of all and there are many restaurants where it may be found. The meat is grilled over charcoal and served with noodles or rice.
Whole garlic cloves to be eaten raw are served on the side, but this is optional. A popular source for Bulgogi here is Uraeok or Ulchiro 4-KA, and the neon sign outside advises, “Fight Communism, Protect Against Spies.” The cost of a meal with sake is about $2 per person.
18 May 1980, New York (NY) Times, “What’s Doing in Seoul” by Shm Jae Hoon, pg. XX9:
Even the famed Korean barbecue, originally softer in style, has been transformed into bulgoki, meaning “flesh on fire.” Bulgoki—slices of marinated beef grilled on charcoal at the table—is a representative Korean dish, served with a bowl of rice or noodles;...
June 5-12, 1990
Bulgoki Is Irresistible
Burger Tex, 5420 Airport Blvd., 453-8772
It’s an indication of the resolve I bring to most enterprises that the moment I walked in the door and saw a bulgoki burger on the menu, my passion for a hamburger faded.
Bulgoki is Korean barbecue, sort of—thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce, garlic, ginger, stuff like that. One of my favorite weird recipes is char iu, Chinese barbecue pork served on a hamburger bun with burger fixings, so I found the Korean equivalent irresistible.
13 March 2000, Korea Times, “Fast Food Chains Waging ‘Fusion Burger’ War”:
Foreign and domestic fast food chains are waging a ``burger battle’’ with new ``fusion burgers,’’ according to industry sources yesterday.
By adding “pulgogi’’ (Korean style grilled beef) hamburger to their menus, Burger King, KFC, Lotteria and McDonald’s hope to lure more customers to their chains.
Burger King, using its traditional flame broiled cooking method, will introduce a new ``pugolgi whopper’’ at its Chongno, Sinchon and Taehangno restaurants.
Austin (TX) Chronicle (April 5, 2002)
5240 Airport Blvd., 453-8772
Daily, 6am-10am; 10:40am-9pm
Burger Tex keeps its priorities squarely on the griddle where they belong. Patties are substantial and not overcooked, and buns are baked fresh on the premises every day. The condiment bar can be hit-or-miss, but the quality of the burger itself stands on its own. The only place in town we know where you can get a bulgoki burger as well as a good old American cheeseburger.
Daily Texan (July 8, 2004)
Bulgogi and the freedom to build, that’s Burger Tex
By Erin Gage
2912 Guadalupe Street
Open: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Prices: Meals from $3.29 - $9.01
Payment Options: Cash, Visa, Mastercard,
For just $3.99, a Bulgogi burger (Korean barbecue) was a nice departure from the other typical burger joint options. The tender stringy pieces of beef had been marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil along with garlic and onions for a very interesting and tangy flavor. Sliced pickles from the buffet, though perhaps not traditional, made a great addition. A side of grilled onions may also complement this burger.
Food Porn: The Bulgogi Burger
Posted Jun 6th 2006 9:37PM by Sarah J. Gim
The idea for a bulgogi burger came to me last summer when I was thinking about entering a burger grill-off/competition. Little did I know that the “Bulgogi Burger” is already a standard menu item on fast food burger joints in Korea. I was slightly disheartened, since my idea wasn’t original, and scrapped it for the competition.
But I never forgot about making it myself. I’ve never actually tried a bulgogi burger in Korea (it’s been about 15 years since I’ve been there), and decided that I didn’t want to know how it is made in tha’ Motherland. I wanted to come up with my own. Besides, someone also told me that many “Bulgogi Burgers” are not burgers at all - they are real pieces of bulgogi slapped between the buns. Who knows? I didn’t care.
My Bulgogi Burger is a lighter version of the bulgogi marinade added to ground beef, then shaped and grilled just like a regular burger. Instead of cheese and the regular burger accompaniments, I used red leaf lettuce, which is often used with Korean barbecue for rolling up rice and meat, grilled onions that had soaked in some of the bulgogi marinade, and instead of ketchup, I slathered the bun with goh-choo-jahng - Korean red pepper sauce. Goh-choo-jahng is very very very spicy.
Austin (TX) Chronicle (January 4, 2008)
The Best of Food in 2007
Top 10 Sandwiches of 2007
BY MM PACK
Korean Bulgogi Burger, Burger Tex II, 2912 Guadalupe, 477-8433. I know I’m stretching the definition of sandwich here, but the bulgogi “burger” at Burger Tex II on the Drag is just too tasty to leave out. A hefty pile of thin-sliced beef marinated in soy and sesame oil is grilled and heaped on a toasted bun. It’s perfect as is, with no additional condiments except maybe a pickle or two
Houston (TX) Press
Bulgoki Burger on the Gulf Freeway
Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 11:55:07 AM
Our latest find in the bi-cultural burger department is the soy and teriyaki barbecue sauce-flavored “Bulgoki Burger” at the Korean-owned Burger House on the Gulf Freeway near Hobby Airport.
Patrons describe the joint as the “poor man’s Fuddruckers” because they cook never-been-frozen burger patties to order and then offer a salad bar arrayed with condiments so you can dress the sandwich yourself. The regular burgers are tasty, but not worth a detour.
The bulgoki burger cost me $4.53. “Don’t put mustard on it, that doesn’t taste right,” the cashier advised. I put a little lettuce and tomato on the bun, and a whole lot of raw onion rings in the middle. The meat tasted like the sliced rib eye used in Philly cheese steaks and the barbecue sauce was a little sweet.
I’m not sure this really qualifies as a burger because of the use of sliced steak instead of ground meat. But flavor-wise, it’s right up there with the Pakistani bun kebab. – Robb Walsh
Burger House, 9247 Gulf Freeway, 713-910-1567
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, April 25, 2008 • Permalink