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Korean Barbecue

Tips for mastering this classic dish

Image Credit:  Becky Luigart-Stayner

Bulgogi, Korean barbecue, is one of Korea's most famous dishes. At Korean restaurants and in many Korean homes, you'll find people seated around the tabletop grill, which is used to quickly sear thin slices of marinated meat. The meat is often wrapped with short-grain rice in red-leaf lettuce leaves with fresh shiso (perilla leaves).

The key to bulgogi is to slice the meat paper-thin so it absorbs the flavors of the marinade and cooks quickly. Freezing it briefly first makes this task easier. Use a very sharp knife or mandoline to create 1/16-inch-thick slices.

Although Koreans cook bulgogi on tabletop grills, we've developed these recipes for standard backyard grills. Because the meat is sliced very thinly, you'll need to cook it on a wire grilling basket. For best results, allow the basket to heat on the grill a few minutes before adding the meat.

The raw meat tends to clump on the basket. Just spread it out as best you can and toss with tongs.

You can also cook the meat in a large, heavy skillet (cast-iron works great) or grill pan over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes.