14 May 2004

Bosod Bulgogi

Today we're having bosod bulgogi (버섯불고기) at a mushroom restaurant. Bosod bulgogi is beef with mushrooms. This is a different take on the standard bulgogi (barbequed beef, or "fire beef") fare.

First, a scan around the joint.

Choice of floor seating or chairs here.

Here's their menu. Typical of these mushroom restaurants, you'll find all things beefy and mushroomy here. Most of these specialist mushroom eateries grow their own mushrooms in plastic canisters in the back of the store. So they're certain of being freshly cropped prior to serving.

Not a bad business model when you think about it. After all, mushrooms require little cultivation attention and they sprout pretty quickly. All this at minimal cost to the proprietor, who gets free supply of fresh mushrooms daily. Anyway, back to the grub.

We start off by heating up some stock in a shallow stone dish. The beef stock is prepared with large onions, garlic, soya sauce, a touch of syrup/sugar, salt, pepper and the all important sweet korean pears. The latter gives this stock its unique sweetness. Add some leaves of crown daisy and sliced large onions for effect.

This is the main dish. A variety of mushrooms and paper-thin sliced beef. KRW9,000 per person's portion. You're looking at 2 portions here. Anything less is kid's play.

A shot of some of the side dishes. Nothing new or fancy that hasn't already been covered in past posts.

This is the salad that's served with the bulgogi. The dressing is typically horseradish (wasabe) based, so watch out before you dig in or you're sure to have a nose flush.

Grab a sampling of the various mushrooms and lay them flat on the dish. Let it simmer for a while before adding the beef since the mushrooms take longer to cook. You don't want to overcook the thin slices of beef by adding them in too early. When the mushrooms are almost done, place the beef over the mushroom.

You will not be able to fit the entire serving in one go. So typically, you'd apportion it into 2 or 3 rounds, with equal portions of mushroom and beef. No hard and fast rules - entirely up to you.

I love watching the bloody-red beef as it turns colour.

It's now ready to eat. I like my beef "medium" so I usually take it off the fire when it's done so that it doesn't toughen from overcooking.

Pinch some side dishes, some mushrooms and a slice of beef and tuck in.

The important elements to a great bosod bulgogi are (1)good beef (2)good stock and (3)fresh mushrooms. This place meets these criterias. Well done. I also like the generous portion of beef they served. I'd say this is above average compared to some other stingy places we've been to in the past. We managed 3 rounds filled to the brim on this occasion.

As I've indicated earlier, most of these mushroom eateries grow their own mushrooms, so criteria (3) is usually a giver. What separates them, in my opinion, is really (2). Taking the extra effort to make up a good batch of the stock is crucial. Too bland and all you get is some mushy mushrooms in some brown liquid.

The bosod bulgogi here gets my thumbs up.


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