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J Food Sci. 2011 Jun-Jul;76(5):S306-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02173.x. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

Sensory characteristics and cross-cultural consumer acceptability of Bulgogi (Korean traditional barbecued beef).

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Dept. of Food Science and Enginering, Ewha Womans Univ., 11-1 Daehyun-Dong, Seodaemun-Gu, Seoul 120-750, Korea.


Bulgogi (Korean traditional barbecued beef) is the most well-known Korean food to foreigners. There are, however, few studies on its sensory characteristics and consumer acceptability. This study was performed to identify the sensory attributes of Bulgogi samples prepared with different formulation and to compare the consumer acceptability in Korea and the United States. Bulgogi samples were prepared with varying levels of sugar and soy sauce with/without garlic or sesame oil. Descriptive analysis was conducted by 8 trained panelists. In consumer tests, 42 consumers in Seoul, Korea, 53 consumers in Davis (Calif., U.S.A.), and 39 consumers in St. Paul (Minn., U.S.A.) participated. Higher levels of sugar and soy sauce (SSS) significantly increased sweetness, saltiness, MSG taste, and soy sauce odor/flavor compared to the control made with the standard formula (CON). Elimination of sesame oil (ESO) significantly decreased sesame oil odor/flavor and oiliness, but increased green onion flavor. Elimination of garlic (EGC) significantly increased grilled beef odor/flavor, sesame oil odor/flavor, and oiliness, but decreased intensities of all the other attributes except bitterness. The consumers in Korea and the United States rated their overall liking for all samples similarly, preferring SSS to CON, EGC, and ESO. However Korean consumers seemed to detect the differences caused by formulation changes better than the U.S. consumers and these perceived differences seemed to impact the hedonic and the just-about-right ratings. Increase in soy sauce and sugar increased both Korean and the U.S. consumers' acceptability of Bulgogi, whereas eliminating garlic did not influence the consumer acceptability despite of its significant impact on sensory attributes.


The food industry is increasingly interested in ethnic foods that satisfy sophisticated appetite of today's consumers. Korean cuisine is recently gaining popularity and perceived as "adventurous and spicy," appealing to researchers and marketers in the food industry worldwide. However, it is not easy to develop a new product based on ethnic cuisine because nonsensory factors, such as food neophobia and openness to new culture, can evoke adverse responses from the consumers. A systematic sensory approach can guide the product development by identifying both sensory and nonsensory factors affecting consumer acceptability. This study investigated sensory attributes of Bulgogi (Korean traditional barbecued beef), one of the most famous Korean foods, and compared consumer acceptability between Korea and the United States. The outcomes of this study, such as flavor profiles, consumer responses, evaluation procedure, and approaches taken for cross-cultural comparison, will provide the food industries with valuable information that will help to develop effective strategies for commercializing ethnic foods including recipe development for Bulgogi marinades.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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