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A delicious version of Bulgogi (Korean Beef Barbecue) that anyone can make at home. No need to make a trip to a specialty market – our recipe uses commonly-found ingredients.
Hi everyone, this is Jack. I’m a huge fan of Korean foods and this Bulgogi recipe is near and dear to my heart, so I wanted to jump on and share the story behind this recipe in my own words.
Earlier in my life, before I met Martha and was a bachelor, I spotted a guy waxing a 1970 Boss Mustang in the parking lot of the apartment building where I lived at the time. I also owned a Mustang (1967 Mustang with a non-factory engine) so I went out to talk to him. On my way down the stairs, I spotted a beautiful Asian woman sunning herself in the side yard.
The guy with the Mustang turned out to be a great guy and Don, and I have been life-long friends ever since. And, as it turned out, the woman sunning herself was his fiancée, Geri. Geri was Korean and because of her and her family, I fell in love with Korean food, their culture and the people.
So – fast forward a few years, and I ended up being the best man at Don and Geri’s wedding. The wedding was in New Jersey, so I flew out from Boston and stayed at Geri’s mother’s house. During my stay I was treated to non-stop Korean food for three days – I tried everything under the sun; all made-from-scratch, authentic, Korean dishes.
Even though Don and Geri are no longer together, a meal of Bulgogi, sticky rice and Kimchi has remained near and dear to my heart all these years later – in part because that was the first Korean food I ever tried, but also because it was made by people who were very near and dear to me at the time. Back then, I dared to try these dishes – and it opened up my palette to many more delicious and exciting dishes that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying ever since.
To get a good caramelization on your Bulgogi – a scorching hot grill is best. (Try to avoid barbecuing in the rain if you can…)
I should also note that this is my own version of Bulgogi, and adding Coca-Cola to the marinade is my idea and non-traditional, so leave it out if you prefer.
Also – a good number of the ingredients used in a traditional Bulgogi recipe are not commonly found in local supermarkets unless you live in an community that has an Asian market. So, in order to make this a recipe that anyone can make – I replaced things like mirin for corn syrup, Asian pear for a Bosc pear, etc.
Bulgogi is typically served with sticky rice and Kimchi. Or use this recipe to make our fantastic Bulgogi Egg Rolls!
- 2 pounds good quality thick bone-in steak, such as strip steak or rib-eye (see note above)
- 1 Bosc pear, peeled and cored
- ¾ cup onion, rough cut
- 2 tablespoon fresh peeled garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh peeled ginger
- 1 medium scallion, tops and bottoms
- 1 cup Coca Cola
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 cups peeled carrots, cut into very thin slices
- Sticky Rice and Kimchi, for serving
- Trim all gristle, bone and excessive fat from meat. This should leave about 1½ pounds of usable meat. With a very sharp knife, slice 1/8th inch thick slices on a slight bias from one end to the other. Set aside.
- In a food processor place pear, onion, garlic, ginger and scallion and puree until very smooth. Pour into a medium to large bowl and add Coca-Cola, soy sauce, corn syrup, brown sugar, pepper, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
- Add beef and carrots; making sure everything gets coated. Place in tight fitting container or zip lock bag for 30 minutes or more depending on the cut of beef used.
- If making rice, make that now.
- Preheat the grill to its hottest temperature and also place a grill pan on grill to cook the carrots.
- Drain the beef and carrots but discard the marinade. Remove as much liquid as possible even blotting any last drops from the meat with paper towels.
- When the grill is at its hottest, mop some vegetable oil over the grill grates and lay the beef slices on the oiled grill. Grill just for a few minutes each side and remove. At the same time, place the carrots in a grill pan and grill just a few minutes until tender.
- Serve cooked sliced beef and carrots with sweet sticky rice and good quality Kimchi. (I have tried a lot of jarred brands of Kimchi and only a few come close to home made. If you are lucky enough to live near an Asian market, buy it fresh.)
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