Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bulgogi 불고기 in Pyeongchang

In Indonesia, we have this Dutch influenced Javanese stew called semur, of slowly simmered beef dominated with nutmeg and peppery undertones with a hint of sweetness from kecap manis. Every household has slightly differing version of semur, at our house we make them with potatoes and glass noodles.

It might be odd to be thinking of this dish while in Korea, but the consensus with the Indonesian tour group was that pan-cooked bulgogi is basically Korea’s semur. I am chuckling to myself here as I am writing this. It’s funny because it’s somewhat true. The bulgogi we had that night was not dissimilar to that of semur, peppery and sweet, the colour of its broth was brown from soy sauce, and it was abundant with glassy, chewy potato noodles. It wasn’t a stretch for us to make the comparison.

But of course there were differences, the pan-cooked bulgogi contained more of the good-for-you vegies, like onions, carrots, spring onions and enoki mushrooms. Traditionally bulgogi is cooked over a grill and eaten like that of Korean barbecue, plopped on top of a lettuce leaf, bulked with rice and other ingredients before being packaged up and delivered to the mouth. With this relatively newly popularised technique of simmering on the pan, the bulgogi is eaten with just a spoonful of rice. Ideally the broth is to be reduced to almost nothing so that the resulting dish is drier mimicking that of grilled bulgogi, though in some cases there would be leftover savoury broth, as is the case for our dinner that night.

However addictive the peppery sweetness of the bulgogi, it can be a bit one note without the help of banchan. That night we were served kkakdugi (spicy daikon pickle), baek kimchi (pickled napa cabbage made without gochugaru), julienned carrot, oyster mushrooms, julienned potato and of course the omnipresent baechu kimchi.

With a full stomach, all that’s left for us to do was to go skiing on the slopes of Pyeongchang before settling down for a hard-earned sleep.

204-1 Hoenggye-ri
Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, GANGWON-DO
강원도 평창군 대관령면 횡계리 204-1
location on google maps

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