February 13, 2005

Bulgogi or the ultimate meat marinade

Bulgogi meat: sliced ribeye

This is one of the most well-known dishes in the Korean cuisine that I hardly need to say anything about it. In fact, I would say that when most people think of Korean food, they think of either kimchee, bulgogi or kalbi. Since kimchee can scare people away by its color and pungent aroma, it's usually the meats, bulgogi or kalbi, that non-Koreans experience as their first entry into the world of Korean cuisine. And why not, it's the most savory way to marinate meat.
The recipe below can marinate up to 4 lbs of beef. I like to make more marinade so I can freeze for a later time. Although it's a cinch to make the marinade, it does help me prepare a meal quickly after a long commute.

2 lb (1.8 kg) beef, sliced ribeye works well as picture above
garlic, 2 Tbs., pureed or chopped fine
scallion, 4-5 stalks cut 2" long
onion, 3/4 c (200g) pureed or chopped fine
soy sauce, 1/2 c. (110 g) regular. I use Kikkoman brand.
sugar, 1/3 c (100g)
sesame oil, 2 Tbs.
mirin, 1/4 cup
water, 1/4c (optional) to thin marinade
Asian pear, 1/4c (100g or so), pureed or chopped fine. Substitute 7-up or seltzer. (optional)

The last two ingredients are optional but highly recommended. My grandmother used to use 7-up but I like to use Asian pear. If your meat has passed its prime or you suspect that it's tough, add a 1/4 cup of pureed kiwi to soften the meat. A half of a kiwi does wonders. Don't overdo it or the meat can seem to fall apart.

Combine all the ingredients of the marinade. Except for the scallions, I like to puree them. It's a difference more of style rather than taste but I like my meat without little bits of onion or garlic. The pureeing does tend to bring out the flavors more fully and the marinating is done more quickly. I don't have a fancy kitchen aid -- my budget doesn't allow that -- but my little grinder set works wonders.

An infomercial on TV was advertising it with the name, "Magic Bullet," but I got mine years ago in Koreatown for like $20. Mine came with several containers of different sizes. I use one to grind coffee beans and the rest for other smells, such as garlic and onion. I suppose you could use a regular blender but the amount needed to puree for this is perhaps too small for a regular sized blender.

Marinate the meat for at least half an hour. Sautee over high heat. I don't cook the green onions since it can make the pan and the meat messy. The flavor should already be in the meat, so it's superfluous.

I like to eat bulgogi with lots of fresh vegetables. This time, M and I had rice (of course), kimchee, red leaf lettuce, green peppers, steamed broccoli, seasoned cucumbers. My father likes to eat sliced raw garlic and seasoned soy bean paste with his meat but that's for true garlic lovers. I have yet to achieve that status.


Anonymous said...

Awesome blog, googled "marinate beef korean bbq" and stumbled upon your blog. I'll definitely try Asian pear in marinate sauce!

Anonymous said...

nice opinion.. thanks for sharing....

ct star said...

Can i use asian pear n 1/2 kiwi to pureen to make the marinate sauce? Or i can only use either one of them?