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November 19, 2010

Bulgogi, the eternal Korean beef


Yes, I know what you're thinking, another Korean beef recipe...
I bet you can find hundreds of Bulgogi recipes on the web.  Many food bloggers have been posted their versions of this glorious Korean cow dish.  
So why am I posting this? Because, I am bored out of my mind...  Just kidding.
Well, I am a Korean food blogger, and I gotta have Korean beef recipe at some point to be eligible for that. Just like every housewives in Korea having their ways of making it,  I have my version too, adapted from my own mother's recipe.
What makes mine different?

 As you see, mine has some juice in the dish. That is what authentic Bulgogi should be. It is supposed to be wet unlike Galbi.
Drizzle those flavorful Bulgogi juice on the rice, it will melt down your soul and makes you fall in love with the person across your table. ♥ ♥ ♥
I also prefer not to mix any vegetable with beef in the marinade. I prepare vegetables separately and use as topping.  Better taste, better presentation, and you get the credit.
Here is how I make my Bulgogi.

 Let's look at the ingredients.
Asian pear, sugar, soy sauce, mirin (or rice wine), sesame oil, sesame seeds, black pepper, 
onion, garlic, anchovies, sea kelp, and or course, the cow meat.

 This is beef rib eye. Previously frozen.
You can buy this thinly sliced (1/8") package any Korean groceries.
I let it to defrost in the fridge overnight.
If you don't have access to the Korean store, 
either slice yourself or ask your butcher to slice as thin as his humanness possible.

Now Beyond Kimchee's special techniques are just about to reveal...
#1:  Place a paper towel on the cutting board,
and layer the beef slices on top just like that.

 Repeat until all the slices are covered with paper towels.
Let it sit like that for 10 minutes.
What in the world am I doing?
You shall see...

 I am sucking some blood out.
Did I ever mention that I used to be a vampire, a dream?
 This step will get rid of unpleasant odor in the meat improving the flavor.
You can skip this if you don't care about what I just said.

 #2: Cut up pear and onion, and put them in a blender.
I just love my mini blender that I recently bought.
My new toy in the kitchen, ho ho ho...
Doesn't the green color looks like 70th retro?
Reminds me of a pair of bell bottom pants I used to wear as a child.

 Let your blender do his duty.

 I don't drink coffee but I buy coffee filters.
Pour your pear onion puree in the filter and drain the clear juice part, discard the other.
Filtering will help create more savoring touch to your meat juice later on.

 Pour the reserved pure pear onion juice over the meat in the mixing bowl.

 Mix well.
Give some massage to your meat, singing some lullaby...
Because they need to relax.
♪♪... ♪♪

 Let it marinade for 30 minutes in the fridge.
This will help break down the fibers in their macho muscles.

#3:  Meanwhile make my royal highness stock.
Some dried anchovies and sea kelp with water,
boil and simmer until you suck the life out of them.

 You will only need about 1/2C of the stock.
Adding the sea flavor to cow meat is like when Harry met Sally version of love story.
Was the movie happy ending?

 Now mix all the ordinary Bulgogi marinade ingredients in a bowl.
The stock, finely minced garlic, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine... etc

 Pour over the meat and massage them again.
This time sing some Bohemian chant...
followed by a prayer.

 I keep them in a jelly roll pan in a single layer.
It helps the meat marinate evenly so you don't have to turn the meat later.
You don't have to follow on this but if you have the pan, why not?

 Cover the pan and chill the meat for overnight.
If you don't have the luxury of overnight magic,
give them at least 4 hours, would ya?

 When everyone is ready to eat, set your dinner or lunch table.
Heat up your skillet over medium-high heat. Hot!
No Need Oil, please!
It cooks in its own juice.
Bulgogi should not cook with any oil except the sesame oil in the marinade, 

Add the meat to the hot skillet.
Stir them gently to cook evenly.
It cooks in no time since the slices are very thin.
1-2 minutes, seriously!
Overcooking will make your meat dry and tough.

You can eat the way it is with some rice 
Serve with some sauteed onions and mushrooms on top
if the presentation is important.

 Just saute onion in a little bit of oil, season with some salt.

For the mushroom, I used oyster mushroom but you can use any.
I sauteed with some garlic, Korean soy sauce and pepper until they get soft.
Throw some chopped green onions for color.

Serve your Bulgogi warm.
Don't forget to drizzle its juice on your rice.
So flavorful and comforting.

Some might think what are all the fusses about extra steps.
The other some wouldn't mind to go extra miles to reach the 100% perfection
where everything in the world is 90% perfect.
If you are the person seeking that missing 10%
I humbly ask you try this.
You will get 98%

Uh, where is the missing 2%?
I will leave it on your imagination.

So until you find the answer,
Be eternal, my Korean beef...

(불고기, Korean beef)
makes 4 servings

2 lb (900g) beef rib eye thinly sliced, about 1/8"thick
1/2 Asian pear cut up
1/2 onion cut up
4-5 dried anchovies
2 dried sea kelp
1 Cup water

soy sauce marinade
7 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp sugar
3 cloves garlic finely minced
2 Tbsp mirin or rice wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp black pepper freshly ground

Place a sheet of paper towel on the cutting board and layer beef slices (in a single layer) without overlapping. Put another paper towel on top and repeat the layering. Cover the top with towel. Let them sit for 10 minutes so the paper towel will absorb some blood.

Puree pear and onion in the blender. Filter the puree in the coffee filter to get the clear juice, discard the fibers. Remove the paper from the beef and place the beef in a mixing bowl. Pour the pear onion juice over and mix well with your hand. Let it sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Meanwhile make anchovy stock by combining anchovy, sea kelp, and water in a small sauce pan. Boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and cool for 20 minutes. Discard the anchovies and sea kelp, reserve 1/2 cup of stock.

Make the soy sauce marinade by combining all the ingredients.
Pour stock and soy sauce mixture to the beef and mix everything thoroughly by hand.
Let the meat marinade in the fridge overnight or at least 4 hrs. When ready heat skillet over medium-high heat until it gets nicely hot. Do not add any oil. Place beef and spread to cover the skillet. It will sizzle. Gently stir the meat to cook. You only need to cook for 1 or 2 minutes since the slices are very thin. 

Remember! overcooking will make your meat tough.You will see the meat releasing its juice while cooking.  Serve your Bulgogi with its juice over rice immediately. Enjoy!

Optional: Saute some onions and mushrooms with a little bit of oil, season with salt and pepper, and use as topping over meat.

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At November 19, 2010 at 11:06 PM , Anonymous Tastesofhome said...

I would never tire of bulgogi and yours look yummylicious!!!

At November 20, 2010 at 7:07 AM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Thanks sweetie. They were mighty tasty.

At November 22, 2010 at 3:38 AM , Anonymous zigzag said...

It looks absolutely delicious! I will make it tonight and let's see what my Korean husband has to say about it :)

At November 22, 2010 at 4:50 AM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Please let me know how he thinks. Hope he likes it.

At March 4, 2012 at 9:41 AM , Anonymous Lgodfrey said...

This is the best Bulgogi I've ever had. Thanks for sharing.

At March 12, 2012 at 4:46 AM , Anonymous Erika Trajano said...

this looks yummy..I'll try to cook this next time :)

At March 16, 2012 at 11:21 PM , Anonymous Dwirth said...

Just went to a Korean shop today looking for dried sea kelp but found a dried sea tangle....are these two the same?

At March 17, 2012 at 12:28 AM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...


At April 15, 2012 at 11:04 PM , Anonymous Alextepp86 said...

thank you thank you thank you. I love this blog, I love the steps you include in your recipes, I love everything. The explanations, everything. Thank you so much. Xoxo


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