Bulgogi is probably one of Korea's best known and most popular dishes. Translated directly, bulgogi means “fire meat.” However, it is not necessarily spicy. Most versions of the beef dish are on the slightly sweet side.
Bulgogi is usually made from thinly sliced cuts of sirloin, but sometimes other prime cuts of beef will be substituted. Its origins aren't exactly known, but it's generally believed to have been created in the Goguryeo era of South Korea, roughly 37 BC – 668 AD. During that time it was called maekjok and the beef was grilled on skewers.
Nowadays the meat is still grilled, though broiling and pan frying are also acceptable means. Before grilling, the strips of beef are marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil. It is not uncommon to find the additional ingredients of scallions, ginger, mushrooms, or even Asian pear. After marinating for a few hours, the beef is grilled over an open flame, often with whole cloves of garlic and sliced onions to accompany it.
Bulgogi-deopbap is simply bulgogi served with rice. Other popular sides include leafy vegetables such as lettuce, which are then wrapped around a slice of beef. Often ssamjang, a spicy condiment, is included in this wrap as well.