A taste of Korean bulgogi
This Asian barbecued beef recipe is simple and flavourful
Tracy O’Connor is the daughter of a Korean immigrant. She grew up eating foods infused with flavours similar to many Asian dishes: sesame oil, garlic, ginger, hot chilies and fermented bean pastes.
“Koreans love to eat,” said O’Connor. “At a typical Korean meal is rice, a soup of some kind, perhaps a meat or tofu dish and many side dishes called banchan. The most famous banchan is spicy cabbage kimchi, but there are many others including kimchis made from radish, cucumbers and green onions—and too many other things to count—spinach salad called sigumchi namul, seasoned soybean sprouts called kong namul and any one of hundreds of pickled or seasoned vegetable dishes.”
Bulgogi, a Korean barbecued beef dish, is served throughout Korea but because of the high cost of the meat, is served mainly on special occasions.
“The recipe for this particular bulgogi is my mother’s very-easy-to-make version,” said O’Connor. “When she first came to North America—and later to Germany as a military spouse—the Asian ingredients she could get were limited. You can make a much fancier bulgogi, but this recipe strips it down to basics and uses easy-to-find ingredients.”
O’Connor suggests making the bulgogi as part of a larger Korean-themed meal and serving it with steamed rice, kimchi, seasoned spinach or other banchan dishes.
“I would also have on hand lettuce leaves and some sort of Asian hot chili sauce or paste to make little lettuce bundles,” she said.
- 1.5-2 lb. eye of round or london broil
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 5 garlic cloves minced finely
- 1 small bunch green onions thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
Slice the beef as thinly as you can into approximately 3/4“ x 2“ strips. For easier slicing, put the beef in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to firm it up beforehand.
In a bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix together well. Pour over the sliced beef and let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in the fridge. You can also freeze the beef with marinade for use at a later time.
Meanwhile prepare your grill, grill pan or broiler. When ready, put the beef strips on, being careful not to crowd them, and cook for about two minutes on each side.
You can eat bulgogi with rice or wrapped in lettuce leaves with a dash of chili sauce like Sriracha or Korean hot pepper paste (kochujang) if desired. Another O’Connor family favourite is to serve the bulgogi on toasted hoagie rolls with a little mayo.