You can't call yourself a Korean cook without knowing the recipe for how to make what is arguably the most famous Korean dish - bulgogi. If you don't know what bulgogi is, you're in for a real treat.
This most popular of Korean dishes includes thinly sliced meat that has a smoky sweet flavor when broiled or cooked on the grill. Bulgogi is even delicious stir-fried, and the tender beef can be used in anything from Korean “sushi” rolls (kimbap) to stir-fried noodles (japchae, chapchae). Bulgogi is usually accompanied with lettuce wraps and spicy red pepper paste (Kochujang) for wrapping and spicing up the meat.
Of course, many Westerners can't handle much heat, so if you'd rather go without the red pepper paste, feel free to skip it, but know that it is delicious. If you can tolerate spices and don't have a medical condition, like an ulcer, that might make spicy food a bit risky for you, enjoy the meat along with the paste. To say that it is delectable would be an understatement. Now, on to the recipe.
- You'll need bulgogi marinade for 1 pound of meat, which amounts to approximately 1 cup.
- Get 1 pound of thinly sliced beef. Top sirloin or tenderloin work best, but almost any steak cut will do. The best quality meat will obviously taste the best, so don't skimp on cost, unless you truly cannot afford quality beef.
- To begin, it's very easy. Simply prepare Bulgogi marinade according to the directions on the package.
- If the beef is not sliced, slice it into thin, finger-length strips (if you freeze the beef for 15 minutes, it will be easier to slice).
- If you can, ask the butcher at the meat counter to slice it for you into very thin strips. Korean and/or Asian grocery stores will often have meat for Bulgogi pre-sliced for sale. So, try to find an Asian supermarket in your area where the butchers will be accustomed to slicing the meat very thinly for patrons.
- You'll need to mix the marinade into meat with your hands or with chopsticks, making sure all the meat is covered.
- Refrigerate the beef for at least three hours or overnight. For tougher cuts, the more hours, the better, so double the amount of time the beef will stay in the fridge if you have a batch of tough meat. You can also freeze the uncooked marinated beef in small amounts for later use.
- Once the meat has been refrigerated for an appropriate amount of time, grill it, broil it or stir fry the beef until it is well-done and caramelized on the outside.
- When you're done, serve the beef with rice, lettuce leaves, and side dishes.