Monday, August 17, 2009

Craving Korean: Bulgogi

Confession number two: Sometimes I hate to admit I'm half Korean. Before all the hapa's pitch a fit please let me explain. Besides being born in Seoul, knowing how to count to 10, saying hello and thank you, and really liking popular Korean food, I'm pretty uncultured in Korean culture. In fact, I'm useless at Korean restaurants. I look curiously at people's tables and wonder, "what is that?" I look at the menus and get uncomfortable and pray my friends don't ask me for suggestions and that the waitress can speak English. My comfort zone revolves around the words "kalbi, bulgogi, jab chae, bib bim bob, and kimchee chigae." (And I had to google most of those words to find the correct spelling...yes, that's how un-Korean I am). Those are the main Korean dishes that I recognize because my mom made them for me growing up. My mother, bless her heart, wouldn't let me cook growing up. "You make too much mess," she would say. "Go watch TV, I do, I do." Meaning, she would cook. I remember my mom squatting on the kitchen floor mixing cabbage and spices to make her own kimchee. She never followed recipes, and therefore was never able to pass any down. I really only eat Korean food when I go home to visit my parents in Texas, or if I go out to eat it. But I have been really craving Korean food lately and figured it might be wise to save some money and learn how to cook my favorite foods myself. I scoured the internet for buglogi recipes and settled on this one, from Alice's blog the Savory Sweet Life. (Check out her blog, it is awesome!) The recipe was SOOOOO easy and turned out tasting pretty darn close to my mom's bulgogi!

Here is Alice's recipe: (she even has a gluten-free variation!) I followed this recipe exactly as stated except for one thing--I marinated the meat overnight instead of just an hour. But either way it turns out delicious!
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  • 1-1.5 lbs. of thinly sliced rib-eye steak purchased from a Korean market. Or you can slice your own rib-eye or sirloin steak across the grain in paper thin slices. Partially freezing the beef helps with cutting clean slices.
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce or for a Gluten-Free variation, use San-J Organic Tamari Wheat Free Soy Sauce found in the health food section of your local grocery store.
  • 3 Tbl white sugar
  • 1 Tbl sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, halved and sliced into medium moon shaped slivers
  • 2 green onions including the white parts, finely sliced into small pieces
  • 2 Tbl toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • *optional 1/4 tsp. of ginger, finely minced
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Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl except beef and onions. When most of the sugar has dissolved, add beef and onion slices to the bowl and massage the marinade with your hands into each slice of beef. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. To pan fry, place a few slices of beef in single layers and completely flat on a hot oiled frying pan and fry each side until cooked. Some people prefer to cook the bulgogi until some of the edges have turned dark brown and crispy. Serve with a bowl of hot rice.
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  1. Looks sooo good! This would be awsome in a taco. Mmmmmmmmm.......

  2. Your post cracked me up! While I'm 100% Chinese, but born here in America, I practically lost all my knowledge of the language. It's sad. People always ask me to say things or for my opinion on things Chinese and I am often clueless. I also never paid attention whenever my grandmother would cook her scrumptious dishes. Now I miss them and wish I had! So good for you for giving the bulgogi a try!

  3. Nicole! Dont you wish we could travel back in time and spend hours with our moms and grandmoms to write down recipes?!


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