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This Question Came to My Inbox: “What is the difference between bulgogi and bibimbap?”

To begin with, bulgogi and bibimbap are two Korean dishes that you will encounter if you go to Korea. Bulgogi can be the best between the two, but not always. If you get the better bulgogi, it is delicious! The better bulgogi is slices of roast beef in a bulgogi sauce. The sauce will be brown. It is flavored with the beef, but also has other flavors in it that make it uniquely bulgogi. If you are offered the better bulgogi, take it!! You usually eat it over or on the side of white rice.

Bulgogi is supposed to be beef, but sometimes, they put pork in it and make the sauce red instead of brown. Photo by Robert Scherzer on Pexels.com

If you go to a school cafeteria or somewhere else where they are trying to save money, they will have something they call bulgogi, but it isn’t. Bulgogi is supposed to be beef. However, when they make it cheaper, it might be pork instead of beef. On top of changing the meat, they also change the sauce. The sauce on the cheaper bulgogi is red and spicy. It just isn’t as good as the real bulgogi.

Bibimbap is like a salad on top of rice. Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

As for bibimbap, it is harder for them to mess that up. It is a big bowl full rice and different kinds of fresh vegetables. They act like it is a kind of Korean “fried rice” like the Japanese eat, but nothing is fried. It also has a strange tasting spicy red sauce you are supposed to put over the top of it, and then you mix the rice, the vegetables, and the sauce all together. Koreans love it. Some foreigners like it that way, but as for my daughter and I, we like it, but without the sauce. We like a lot of Korean food, but we have learned to steer clear of their chili spice dumb dishes. They love to overdo the chili spice, and they usually do it with the sauce for the bibimbap. My daughter was just saying to me the other day that she wondered why they didn’t change the sauce on bibimbap and make it a soy sauce type sauce instead of a chili spice sauce. She said she really likes bibimbap, but wishes they would just keep that sauce, and I feel the same way.

In American food, Mexican food, and food from most countries, they use chili spice, but we don’t over use it, but in Korea, they over use it. Be careful if you begin eating Korean food and eat the right dish cooked by the right person. I have seen someone in Korea eating a kind of red soup that was so chalked full of chili spice that it was making the sweat. However, not all their dishes have chili spice like the nicer bulgogi. Photo by Nastasya Day on Pexels.com

These are two really basic Korean dishes, bulgogi and bibimbap. They can be really good if the right cook makes them, but I have been served them where I wish they had another cook. My favorite between the two is the bulgogi. The kind with roast beef and a brown sauce, I want to recommend to you. By the way, “bap” means “cooked rice.”

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