What Is Koji Beef?

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Kogi Beef
Kogi Beef (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Koji beef is the common misspelling for Kogi beef or “Bul-Kogi” – a type of marinated Korean barbecue beef. In Korean, “Kogi” translates to “meat.” Bul-Kogi (which can also be spelled bulgogi) is a traditional Korean dish that is made with thin slices of sirloin and other prime cuts of beef. The meat is marinated before it is grilled. In the United States, Kogi beef is sold on Korean-Mexican barbecue fusion trucks in the Los Angeles, California area.

Korean Bul Kogi Beef

Bul Kogi beef is marinated in garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, sherry or red wine, beef stock, black pepper, and scallions for one to two hours. Some chefs like to marinate their beef longer than this. For the best result, you should use a high quality cut of steak – such as tender sirloin. The beef has to be very thinly sliced before marinating. After at least one or two hours of sitting in the marinade, the Kogi beef will be grilled. It is typically served over rice.

The Secret to Kogi Beef: Tenderizing the Beef

What makes Kogi beef so popular is that its tender beef melts in your mouth. The quality of the meat and how you tenderize the beef plays a role in how delicious this Korean food tastes. To tenderize Kogi beef, you have to pat the meat in the opposite direction of its texture. Pat the meat with the back of your knife. This process takes time, but tenderizing the beef will make marinating it more effective.

The Origin of Kogi Beef

The earliest version of Bul-Kogi or bulgogi was called “mac-jok.” This Korean barbecued beef came from an ancient Korean kingdom called Koguryo – which located in northern Korea. This recipe was distinct from the Chinese cuisine at the time, because the Chinese did not marinate their beef prior to grilling. The original recipe of Kogi beef called for marinating the beef in garlic and Korean sauce.

Koji Beef Menu Offerings

In the United States, Koji beef has become popular in thanks to Korean-Mexican barbecue fusion trucks. The company that owns the trucks, Kogi BBQ, fuses together high quality Korean barbecue meats with traditional, homemade tortillas. Kogi BBQ operates five food trucks and one bar in the Los Angeles area.

At any Koji beef truck, customers can fill their stomachs with Kogi tacos, Kogi hot dogs, Kogi kimchi quesadillas, Kogi sliders, and other offerings. All of their menu selections use the traditional Kogi marinated beef. Everything on the menu is affordable. Tacos are available for $2.10; Kogi favorites and burritos are only $5. The company also features combos – all of which are available for under $10. Chef Roy Choi, the culinary mastermind behind this Korean-Mexican barbecue, wants his customers to enjoy high quality food at street level prices. The company is quite successful, and during peak hours, the wait time can be very long.

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