Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bulgogi (불고기)

Here in the South, we LOVE us some BBQ. Alabama doesn't have a particular STYLE of BBQ, like, say, North Carolina, Memphis or Kansas City, though we *DO* have our own "white sauce", which I've posted about before

BBQ isn't just an American thing, either. Bulgogi (불고기) is often referred to as "Korean BBQ", though the name literally translates to "fire meat". Thinly sliced meat, usually beef, is marinated, then grilled over a brazier or on a cast iron dome griddle.  If you don't have a Korean griddle, don't worry - a good non-stick frying pan will work, or you can use a flat or ridged cast iron skillet as well. 



The combination of the marinade and the grilling gives the beef a wonderfully smoky yet sweet flavor. You *CAN* buy premade bulgogi marinades at any Asian market, but it's much easier to make it from scratch, PLUS you know EXACTLY what's in your marinade! 

The key to good bulgogi is the meat. Ideally, sirloin or even ribeye is used, preferably a well-marbled piece, sliced wafer thin. Other ingredients such as cellophane or dangmyeon noodles are often added to the cooking sauce, along with enoki mushrooms or bok choy. Bulgogi is also eaten alone, atop rice, wrapped in lettuce with a dab of ssamjang, a spicy pepper paste similar to gochujang, but with soybean added to the pepper. 



Bulgogi (불고기)
adapted from Kitchen Wench

Ingredients:
2 lbs thinly sliced sirloin or ribeye
1 Fuji apple, grated & grated
1 Asian pear, peeled & grated
1 yellow onion, peeled & grated
5 cloves garlic, grated
1" knob ginger, peeled & grated
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2/3 cup light soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp black pepper
Toasted sesame seeds
Bibb lettuce
Ssamjang

THINLY slice your beef. Many Asian markets will sell frozen pre-sliced bulgogi beef; I was able to get 2 pounds of marbled beef for only $12 at a Korean market in Huntsville. The price was EXTREMELY reasonable considering the amount of beef, the quality of the beef, and the fact that I wouldn't have to deal with slicing it myself. 




Prepare the marinade: Place the beef in a bowl. Add the grated apple pulp and set aside. 






In another bowl, combine the grated Asian pear and grated onion. Add the grated garlic & grated ginger. Next, add the honey, sesame oil and soy sauce Combine well and pour atop the beef. 










Add the scallions and black pepper. Massage the marinade into the meat, making sure the meat is completely covered and that none of the slices of beef are sticking together. Marinate, refrigerated, for at least 4-6 hours, or preferably overnight. 





Cook the bulgogi on a domed griddle or cast iron skillet over high heat; the meat, being thinly sliced, will cook extremely quickly. Remove the meat from the pan, then top with toasted sesame seeds and additional scallions (if desired).





If you wish to cook any vegetables or noodles in the pan juices, remove the cooked beef from the pan first (to prevent overcooking the meat), then cook everything else. The pan juices are also wonderful poured over rice and eaten with the bulgogi. 

To eat the bulgogi "ssam" style, simply take a Bibb lettuce leaf, add a bit of sticky rice, then top with bulgogi and a bit of ssamjang. Wrap, then eat! Bulgogi is best when eaten with side dishes such as kimchi or an array of banchan. You can also add a bit of kimchi to the wrap itself! 









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