Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Classic Meals: Korean Bulgogi

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Until recently, I didn't have the guts to experiment with Asian cuisine. Big ingredient lists, unique spices, and alternative cooking techniques all seemed too complicated for my limited time in the kitchen. But then I tried Steamy Kitchen's Beef Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It was flavorful and, despite the seeming long ingredient list, not too involved. Bolstered by my success, I made Pork Potstickers. Um, they were so very good, a little time consuming, but, happily they are meant to be made in big batches and frozen for future lazy dinner days. I've still got some in the freezer.

Recently, I paid a visit to Dickson's Farmstand, my absolute favorite butcher who locally sources their meats. I was just about to check out when I spied a cut of beef entitled Flanken. It was flat and narrow with little marrowed bones throughout and lots of fatty bits. The butcher said, "Oh that? Those are great for making Bulgogi." "I'll take eight," I immediately replied. I had no idea how I was going to make it, but Korean Bulgogi is one of my favorite meals to eat. Growing up, we use to frequent a Korean barbecue restaurant called Woo Lae Oak. At the time I most enjoyed being allowed to grill my own meal, but now I'm mad for the marinade's subtle flavors.

As soon as I got home, I went through every recipe I could find online and settled on Ming Tsai's recipe. If you have a food processor or even a blender, then this recipe is very very very easy. Just puree the ingredients, marinate the flankens overnight and broil under a high heat for about 10 minutes. Serve with rice and a salad and you've got something that might just rival the Bulgogi barbecue of my youth.

Korean Bulgogi
Adapted from Ming Tsai
(Flankens are just short ribs cut into very thin strips by the butcher. If you have a hard time getting your hands on them, try buying a Ribeye (as recommended by Hana below). Pop it in the freezer for about 30 minutes and then cut it against the grains as thinly as you can. Ming Tsai uses hanger steak.)

What You'll Need:
1 tbsp Ginger chopped
2 tbsp Garlic chopped
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1tbsp Black Pepper ground
1 cup Canola Oil
1/4 cup Sesame Seed Oil
1 cup Scallions chopped
8 Flankens (or 2 pounds london broil)
2 bunches Scallions trimmed

Combine all of the ingredients - not including Flanken! - in a food processor. Process until smooth. Lay out the beef in a casserole dish and pour the marinade overtop. Flip the beef several times to make sure it's well coated. Cover and refrigerate over night.

The next evening, set the broiler on high and move the rack down to the second level. (PS - if you have a grill and like using it then this is your calling.) Scatter the scallions on a broiler pan and place a rack over top. Place the flanken on the rack and broil for five minutes on one side until the outside is a deep brown. Flip and broil for another five minutes. Enjoy!

Approximate Cost:
Groceries: $30
Cost per Meal: Expect 4 servings

This Time Last Year: Garlic Scapes with Shrimp and Brown Rice

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  1. Ooh, I love Bulgogi, but haven't tried making it myself. Thanks!

  2. I'm reading this at the end of the day, when my brain is barely with me. I initially thought you wrote "puree all of the ingredients including the flanken!" and I was like, "Now there's something novel. I never knew you could do that!" Of course, you can't, because when I read the sentence again, I figured it out. In. Need. Of. A. Brain.

  3. This sounds really easy. I've never had bulgogi but would definitely like to try it!

  4. The photo is enough to make me drool. I think I'll dream of these tonight. They look and sound so very good.

  5. I've never had this before but I love the flavor combination. There's a similar dish of sorts in Japanese cuisine where you wrap a couple asparagus and green onion stalks in a thin piece of beef and then saute it in soy sauce and other seasonings. This reminds me a bit of that. And you can only find the right meat slices at an Asian grocers. I'll have to try this.

  6. This looks amazing, Peggy. My kids won't eat meat anymore though so I'll have to try making this some night when it's just my husband and me at the dinner table (ut oh, that might be years from now...)

  7. Love that you link to the farmstand and give approximate cost - keeps it real and grounded.

  8. thinking about what else this marinade/sauce would go well with -- is it used elsehwere in Korean cooking?

  9. Thank you everyone!!

    Kerry, that's a great question and one I've been pondering. I think the marinade makes a great dipping sauce and would be fabulous over grilled veggies of any kind. Hmmm, Jennifer, maybe you could marinate tofu in it for your vegetarian kiddies!

  10. I can't believe I'm leaving New York without having wangled a lunch invitation from you, Peggy. Next time I'm back, you'll have to cook from Sheryl and me; your recipes invariably look wonderful.

  11. Hello,

    I'm Korean and I have to set the record straight that beef pho is not Korean, it's Vietnamese (perhaps that was just a mistype?). Also, bulgogi refers to thinly sliced ribeye that is marinated and cooked over high heat. Your recipe here which uses short ribs refers to LA Galbi, or LA short ribs. I do have an authentic recipe if you're interested, but the basics seem to be covered in this recipe as well. Although from the pictures, I'm not sure why there is so much yellow in the marinade? It should be dark brown.
    I hope I'm not offending, I just want to clear up these sorts of details because it's important to distinguish in any type of cuisine.

  12. Hana, so sorry!!! That was a total typo about the Pho. I've changed it. I must've had Korean food on the brain and wasn't thinking straight.

    As for the bulgogi, I can't claim this recipe to be authentic, but it sure tasted really good. I remember eating the short ribs as a child and loving them. The marinade was different. I also remember the bulgogi not having any bones. If you recommend rib eye over london broil, I'll definitely include that in my post. As for the color of the marinade, I can't say why it's orange - probably the ginger.

    It's interesting because when I was looking for a bulgogi recipe online, there were so very many different options. I went for Ming Tsai's because I enjoy his cooking. However, that certainly doesn't mean it's the absolute authentic recipe.

    If you're willing to share any of your recipes, please do send them over!!! I'd love to try them. Your LA Galbi recipe would be amazing! Thanks so much for your note, Hana.

  13. Trader Joe's sells a pre-marinated bulgogi in a vacuum pack that's really good, but I've never actually made my own. I will have to give this a try.



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