Dahk (Chicken) Bulgogi – Seoul Searching

dahk (chicken) bulgogi
It has come to my attention in recent weeks that I spend entirely too much time on The Delicious Life

Yes, I do spend too much time on The Delicious Life, but I actually need to finish my sentence.

It has come to my attention in recent weeks that I spend entirely too much time on The Delicious Life uselessly writing about myself and my utterly uninteresting unemployed life.

Obviously, I didn’t come to this realization myself, as I was far too absorbed in gazing at my muffin-crumb-filled navel that is rapidly disappearing into some rather unbecoming “folds.” I have received a few fyi comments and other such unsavory, though somewhat amusing, emails suggesting that I should write about things that are appropriate for a food blog. Like food.

*ouch* That hurts.

Hm. That memo from the Food Blog Council must have been sequestered straight into my Gmail Spam recipe box. Or perhaps I accidentally glossed over Food Blogging Code, Section 350(d)(F) that lists “appropriate” food blogging topics. If someone has a copy of that Code, would you mind forwarding it to me? Thanks.

So after my initial I’m slightly-offended, sarcastic yet silent non-responsive response (see above), I phased into my second reaction. I stomped around my apartment with indignation in high heels and a frilly apron, waving a very large balloon whisk in large air-figure-eights around my head that, if not for being physiologically attached to my neck, would have flown off into the corner like yesterday’s wilted Iceberg for how violently I was jerking it back and forth, side to side. I was shouting in an inner histrionic monologue born of a drag queen latifah. “Food blog? Damn right, this is a food blog! This is my blog. Mine! And I can write about what ever the !#$%^& @$%!!& I want to! Unh unh, honey. Ain’t nobody telling this Delicious princess what to write on my food blog! Mmmmm hm. That’s right. Delicious this!” And I was punctuating each statement with a righteous twirl of my whisk.

Very. Convincing.

Then I sat down at my laptop and begrudgingly realized that they were right. I was just being arrogant and defensive. This is a food blog. I should write about food. I should provide valuable, educational information about food, its history, its popular preparations and maybe even some of its lesser known serving suggestions, list some fun facts about it, spit out some nutritional data, etc. etc. etc. You know, like all those fabulously informative and entertaining shows on the Food Network. I should be like Jim O’Connor on The Secret Life of! (I really shouldn’t make fun because Jim’s kinda cute.)

*blink* *blink*

How about I just write about bulgogi?

The Korean phrase “bulgogi,” is not, as it would seem from its popular Romanization, one word. “Bulgogi,” is, in fact, two words, “bul” and “gogi.” It is in their glorious smacked-together-ness that they refer to one thing. And since this is my blog, I will now take the liberty to de-Romanize the popular version “bulgogi” and re-Romanize in the Delicious version that I think makes more sense for pronunciation based on reading Roman letters off a page.

It is much more like a breathy “bool” than whatever it is supposed to sound like with the “U,” and it certainly doesn’t rhyme with “dull.” “Bool” literally translates to “light” and/or “fire.”

bool=fire

Now, I’m tempted to re-Romanize “gogi” as “gogee,” but then it might be mistakenly pronounced as “go, G,” but in the end, it just rhymes with “bogey.” “Gogi” translates to “meat.”

gogi=meat

bool+gogi=fire meat

(I would have called upon one totally played out SNL rap skit to inject some humor into this Korean linguistics lesson, but like I said, it has been painfully overused. I’ll just play it straight. For now.)

Bool gogi in it most popular form is thinly sliced boneless beef, the slightly more refined sibling of galbee, which are the fatty, meaty, thick shortribs. Both meats are marinated in a sweet, soy-sesame seasoning, then grilled. Though galbee is always made from either regular- or cross-cut shortribs (literal translation of the word “galbee” is “rib”), bool gogi beef can be any tender boneless cut that allows for thin slices – ribeye, flank steak, etc. Bool gogi also doesn’t always have to be grilled over a fire, as the name would suggest, but can be pan-fried or sautéed, or set under a broiler (which is basically inverse grilling, right?).

But since “bool gogi” translates to “fire meat,” technically, you could use any sort of meat, not just beef. Koreans make “dae-jee bool gogi,” which is thinly sliced pork marinated in a fairly spicy seasoning then grilled. Back in Berkeley, I used to schlep into Steve’s Barbecue and order combo-numbah-two daeeeeee-jee-bool-gogi! about once a week. Maybe more often if we were in finals. Galbee and regular bool gogi were boring in their salty, overly sweet marinade, but the dae-jee bool gogi, with its spicy kick from goh-choo-jahng (Korean hot pepper paste) and goh-choo-ga-roo (Korean red pepper powder) was awesome.

For your reference, dae-jee=pig , therefore dae-jee + bool gogi = pig fire meat.

*whoa* “Pig fire meat” sounds sooooo much better.

dahk bool gogi/bulgogi/bulgogee
don’t be fooled. it is dahk bool gogi

Because chicken is meat, then bool gogi can also be made from chicken! It is dahk bool gogi. The marinade for dahk bool gogi is very similar to its beefier cousins’, with only a slight adjustment to the ratios of soy sauce, salt, and sesame oil to account for the much blander meat, and potential dryness of chicken breast. I haven’t
seen dahk bool gogi much on menus in Korean restaurants. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, so maybe I am making this all up as we go along. But I think I’ve been pretty convincing thus far, yes? ;) Actually, I have seen what would be considered dahk bool gogi, but for some reason, Koreans want to call it something else like dahk gui, “gooey” referring to it being grilled. Don’t be fooled. It’s really dahk bool gogi.

Bool gogi doesn’t work for fish. Fish is not meat. Next!

So I made chicken bool gogi, as part of my personal Seoul Searching efforts for 2006, very long on the heels of dahk jjim, a Korean braised chicken stew. The dahk bool gogi tasted alright, except that I should know by now that whenever I think I’ve added enough heat (spice), I should add more. I guess that’s what kimchee is for.

I feel so Korean now.

** a year ago today, i popped my wbw cherry with a sicilian **

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  • s’kat

    Hmmm. Last time I checked, it’s your damnned blog, and not anybody else’s.

    Let the sheeple continue to be sheeple, and please Sarah, for the sake of all that is good and right in the world, just keep blogging as you do.

    Some people just have no sense of humour whatsoever. And those folk should keep on clicking- I’m sure there’s a very right-centred, minimalist, sensory-depriving blog that they can plod along with at will. Bloody wankers.

    ps- the word verification I’m required to type in begins with ‘soy’. That’s good enough for me. ;)

  • onetomato

    to hell with them sarah. i like your blog because i’m part food lover and part peeping tom. or actually tomess. i love how you tie in your love of food in other areas of life. please don’t change.

  • KT

    Well, Sarah, I don’t know you in real life, and only came to your blog to read about food, but I personally love the personal tidbits. I think any blog is more fascinating when you learn as much about the author as what they write about. I read a lot of food blogs, but yours is definitely a daily must-read for me because I feel like I’m getting to know you as well as discovering some cool recipes and drooling over the restaurant reviews.

    The people who don’t appreciate it are obviously boring.

  • Catherine

    Woman: eating, cooking, burning, baking, shopping, shooting, obsessing, experimenting, and fantasizing about food is a multisensational experience in and of itself. And you know that. Which is why, some of the *ehem* less experienced just couldn’t possibly relate to all the fun you’re having. But, if you must please the masses, throw in some fun facts like, 1) Never eat bulgogi – never eat in general – while you’re experiencing distress from reading a food blog that you have no humor to enjoy. Indigestion isn’t anyone’s friend.

    There. A fact presented. ;)

  • Maure

    oh no – you didn’t mention
    The Secret Life of!

    I watch that show with a mixture of shame, horror and a feeling
    of deep, merciless existential
    dread. if only i wan’t too lazy
    to turn to history channel or
    something.

    sarah your blog rocks plain and simple. if i had a last blog to read before being strapped into
    old sparky it would be yours.
    oh and maybe the prison break blog.

  • david hong

    Hi, Sarah, your posts are pretty funny!

    There is a korean bbq place on Olympic across from Shin Peking that seems to specialize in chicken bbq. But, it isn’t like regular meat bbq, and they cook the marinated chicken thighs with vegetables in a huge wok-like paella (sp?) pan. Then, after the meat course, they throw in rice and red pepper paste and some grape seed oil and some nori to make fried rice. I’ll try to find the name and address. I went there a couple of years ago, but I had a great meal.

  • Mollie Foti

    I’m just now getting started blogging but the thing I find so exciting is the personal connection. Also, good food writing is really? about life.

    In reading your blog, its your personality that really makes it interesting. (And, I love the photos as well.)

  • Mollie Foti

    I’m just now getting started blogging but the thing I find so exciting is the personal connection. Also, good food writing is really? about life.

    In reading your blog, its your personality that really makes it interesting. (And, I love the photos as well.)

  • peachiee

    The image I have in my head of the flog fairy tirade is HILARIOUS!! You tell them, Sarah! It’s your blog and you can damn well cry if you want too! :))

  • peachiee

    PS: Jim O’Connor is TOTALLY cute!!

  • jackt

    instead of your preamble you could have just pulled a super passive-aggressive reaction to all those “stick to the food” suggestions. like an entire, serious post on “dahk bool gogi” = “delicious pan fried gummi worms in soy sauce and garlic lovingly stirred for all you commenters with my index finger”. =)

  • jackt

    instead of your preamble you could have just pulled a super passive-aggressive reaction to all those “stick to the food” suggestions. like an entire, serious post on “dahk bool gogi” = “delicious pan fried gummi worms in soy sauce and garlic lovingly stirred for all you commenters with my index finger”. =)

  • MeowMix

    Like all the other commentors above, I love your blog exactly the way it is. Don’t change a THING.

    On another note, you should try “bool dahk”, which is a yummalicious hella-spicy chicken dish. Kind of like mae-woon dwaeji bool gogi but with chunks of chicken instead.

  • Dolores

    Sweetheart, you just continue being the delicious lady you are and t’heck with ’em if they can’t take a joke. Part of what’s great about your Delicious Life is your perspective on that… if I wanted an encyclopedic assessment of the southern California restaurant scene, I’d consult… an encyclopedia. Duh. Keep it coming. Even if I”m not your *favorite* reader ;) you’re one of my favorite food bloggers!

  • onetomato

    i wonder if steve’s bbq is still around? you brought up memories of all those little restaurants at durant square. how funny.

  • Maure

    dear onetomato:

    what the heck is the name of that
    little old donut shop in durant
    sq. – if it’s still there that
    is.

  • Marie

    i think what makes your blog so compelling (and addictive!) is that you talk about other areas of your life rather than a step-by-step how-to guide to making the perfect quiche/omelette/etc. your humor and openness about your personal life is what makes your blog stand out.

    people need to stop drinking haterade. keep on keepin’ on!

  • Marie

    i think what makes your blog so compelling (and addictive!) is that you talk about other areas of your life rather than a step-by-step how-to guide to making the perfect quiche/omelette/etc. your humor and openness about your personal life is what makes your blog stand out.

    people need to stop drinking haterade. keep on keepin’ on!

  • sarah

    KING PIN DONUTS!!!!

  • sarah

    and by the way everyone, thank you very much for your positive affirmation in your comments!

    yeah, i guess i’ll keep writing as is like a diary, which is what i was planning to do all the time anyway. there are lots of blogs out there – something for everyone, and i certainly do realize that mine is not for everyone.

    i feel so much better now :)

  • sarah

    and by the way everyone, thank you very much for your positive affirmation in your comments!

    yeah, i guess i’ll keep writing as is like a diary, which is what i was planning to do all the time anyway. there are lots of blogs out there – something for everyone, and i certainly do realize that mine is not for everyone.

    i feel so much better now :)

  • Maure

    king pin donuts – how could i ever
    forget very sober nights and mornings spent gingerly stepping in front of puddles of urine at king pin donuts.
    thanks again delicious, sarah.

  • hermz

    It’s funny… here you go out of your way to be educational about a food item, and it ends up being the first entry of yours where I already knew it all. That’s pretty funny. :)

  • Adam

    I think that Chosun Galbi has the best Dahk Bul Go Gi by far.

  • Adam

    I think that Chosun Galbi has the best Dahk Bul Go Gi by far.

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