Are you planning to serve grilled meat at your next event? Bulgogi, meaning “fire meat” in Korean, maybe a good choice.
It’s different, delicious, and versatile.
Hence, you don’t have to worry much about what to serve with bulgogi as there are plenty of choices, from kimchi to baked potatoes and from oi muchim (spicy cucumber salad) to mu bokkeum namul (stir-fried radish).
If you’re wondering what items to serve alongside bulgogi, you mustn’t go anywhere because we’ll list at least ten of the best dishes, including the four mentioned above.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes with Bulgogi?
Bulgogi originated in the Northern regions of Korea and is also quite popular in South Korea.
You can find it in restaurants and most food stalls or eateries across the country.
While it’s a delicious item, it’s accompanied by various Korean side dishes.
The extra items are mostly veggie dishes, and it’s understandable because the meat needs veggies to create a balanced meal.
The side dishes include salads, stir-fries, and pickles, so you have plenty of options.
Side dishes also become necessary if you host a big event and invite many people.
Everyone will want to enjoy the food, and serving only bulgogi won’t be enough.
What to Serve with Bulgogi? 10 BEST Side Dishes
There are so many choices, but we can’t add all, so here are the ten best, and we promise that they all make a lovely pairing with bulgogi.
1 – Fresh Kimchi
It’s perhaps the most popular Korean food in the country and worldwide.
Kimchi is a side dish that accompanies most foods in Korean cuisine, and the native people also use it in soups and stews.
It makes a nice pairing with bulgogi because it’s salty, spicy, tangy, and fresh.
Traditionally, kimchi consists of napa cabbage, Korean radish, and seasonings and is allowed to ferment before being consumed.
But you can also enjoy freshly-made kimchi with bulgogi and other items.
Fresh kimchi isn’t very intense in flavor, but it’s delicious nonetheless.
2 – Oi Muchim (spicy cucumber salad)
Korean-style spicy cucumber salad or oi muchim is also a side dish you can enjoy with bulgogi.
It can be a suitable substitute for kimchi if you can’t find napa cabbage and Korean radish.
Cucumbers are suitable for making the dish, but Korean cucumbers are the most preferred choice.
So, you must try to find a variety to make authentic spicy cucumber salad in Korean.
If you can’t find the said species, it’s best to buy the freshest cucumbers, no matter the variety.
Fresh cucumbers should be dark green without any yellow spots.
You must also avoid wrinkled cucumbers because it means they were picked a long time back.
3 – Mu Bokkeum Namul (stir-fried radish)
Not only do salads taste lovely with bulgogi, but even fried veggies combine nicely with the grilled meat.
Mu bokkeum namul is a Korean stir-fried radish dish popularly served as a side dish with different items, including bulgogi.
Mu bokkeum namul is made of Korean radish and a few other ingredients, including salt, sesame, oil, fish sauce, green onion, garlic, and red chili pepper optional).
You can also add black pepper, toasted sesame seeds, and avocado oil.
Korean radish becomes milder and tastier when cooked, but you should pick the best veggies.
Choose those with as much white as possible without scratches, bumps, or green.
4 – Spicy Korean Noodles
Spicy Korean noodles are a must-have side dish if you want to amp up the flavors of your bulgogi.
The dish is also called gochujang noodles because it uses gochujang paste.
Gochujang paste is made of sticky rice, fermented soybeans, salt, and red chile pepper flakes.
It can be mild, spicy, or extra hot, so you can select the best one that suits your palate.
Spicy Korean noodles contain chestnut mushrooms, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, spring onion, and honey (optional).
Together, the noodles dish come alive and offers lovely flavors.
5 – Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes are perfect if you want to add a versatile dish.
The spuds taste yummy with any meat dish and are easy to cook.
Potatoes are also popular with everyone, so you won’t be disappointed with the dish.
Baked potatoes taste great even when you add only salt and pepper.
But you can add a variety of toppings according to preference or availability.
Slices of bulgogi, gochujang, cheese, sour cream, black beans, smoked salmon, corn, pico de gallo, and chives are suitable items to put on baked potatoes.
Make the dish with Russet or Idaho potatoes as they offer a fluffy and mealy texture.
Add your favorite topping and enjoy with bulgogi.
6 – Korean Fried Rice
Rice in any cooked form matches perfectly with the meat.
It enhances a meal even more, when you add various ingredients.
Korean fried rice is a dish that you can serve alongside bulgogi at any time.
It’s a hearty dish, so everyone will feel full before leaving the event.
Of course, as you can imagine, it’s yummy with full of flavors as it contains different ingredients, including kimchi, gochujang, herbs, and veggies.
You can also add bacon and eggs, but if you want a veggie option, then you can leave these out.
White rice is the standard variety for making Korean fried rice, but you can also use other varieties like brown rice for a change.
7 – Garlic Butter Mushrooms
Mushrooms are neither vegetable nor meat, but they have features of both foods, so you can use them on different menus.
A mushroom dish will be perfect if you have several veggie dishes and want something different.
Garlic butter mushrooms are yummy, and do you know? You need only five ingredients for the dish; mushrooms, soy sauce, pepper, garlic, and butter.
You can add a little salt to taste if you want.
You can use the shiitake variety as they have a meaty texture with a light woodsy flavor and aroma.
If this species isn’t available, you can also use white or button mushrooms as they’re most abundant.
8 – Spicy Stir-Fried Rice Cakes
Any rice dish tastes yum with bulgogi, and when it’s something like spicy stir-fried rice cakes, you’re going to have a mind-blowing combo.
We also guarantee that everyone present will love the two items together.
Spicy rice cakes are a recently invented dish, 1953 to be exact.
But the cakes taste so good that now the dish is one of the most popular street foods.
You can find it in most street food stalls around the country.
Soy sauce, sugar, anchovy broth, and chili paste combine to make a delicious sauce, and when added to the rice cakes, you get one of the most flavorful dishes.
9 – Fried Egg
It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it tastes absolutely fantastic.
If you’re short of time and ingredients, a fried egg can also be a yummy side dish with bulgogi.
Everybody loves eggs, and they’re one of the healthiest foods, so you won’t regret your choice.
Making fried eggs is also the easiest thing to do, as eggs cook fast, and you can make them with salt and pepper.
However, choosing fresh eggs is essential, or the yolk will not hold its shape when you fry them.
Look for USDA-graded eggs, as they’re more flavorful and nutritious.
You should also avoid out-of-date eggs, those with unregulated labels, and cracked shells.
10 – Korean Pickled Onions
How about ending the list with a fresh, sweet, and tangy dish? Korean pickled onions are versatile, and they pair nicely with almost anything.
You can enjoy the onions with bulgogi and the other items you serve at the event.
Pickled onions are easy to make, and you can create the dish in fifteen minutes.
But the dish tastes even better if you make it earlier.
So, you can make it at least one day ahead to obtain maximum flavors.
Also called yangpa jangajji, pickled onions usually have onions, soy sauce, raw sugar, apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar, and Korean chili.
Now you can cook and serve bulgogi at any event and not worry about which side dishes to serve alongside.
With your knowledge of the ten best items, you have several choices.
All pair well with bulgogi, so you will have a hit combo no matter what.
But choose different items for variety.
For instance, serve baked potatoes, pickled onions, and fried rice together or fried egg, kimchi, and mushrooms.
You’ll have the yummiest combos and have a complete meal each time.