To me, asian cuisine always felt untouchable and mysterious, moreso than any other, only to be left to the masters and not to be played around with at home. Maybe it’s just me, but I always found it deeply intimidating, and it took me a long time before I ventured to try cooking it at home. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t something I grew up eating regularly, or because I’m lost in a city of ‘American Asian Food’ and ‘Authentic Asian Food’, stuck in a limbo of fusion and traditional, trying (and probably failing) to tell the difference.
Beef bulgogi was one of those dishes that, for me, was only going to be eaten outside of my kitchen, at a Korean Barbecue place or at a teppanyaki restaurant, where the chefs can crack eggs in the air with a knife and make flaming onion pyramids — basically, I am not on their level. But, when I ventured to try it myself for the sake of Travel at Home, it was not only one of the easiest dishes I’ve probably ever made (and I mean really, easier than boiling an egg) but also the most delicious.
I read a handful of bulgogi recipes, but the one I based it on was from here, and then I made a few adjustments as I went on.
Flank steak, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped green (or any) onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sliced or shredded carrot
Combine soy sauce, sugar, onion, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and ground black pepper into a bowl. Place beef in a baking dish, and pour marinade on top.
Allow it to marinade for a few hours (at least 1), up to overnight.
If you don’t have a grill, like myself, quickly pan fry the beef in a hot skillet. This should only take a couple minutes each side. Don’t crowd the pan, I made this mistake, just fry two batches if need be.
Mix in the carrot, and serve it up!
A tidbit of history — bulgogi may have originated from Goguryeo (37 BC–668 AD), one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and literally means ‘fire meat’. It’s made up of thin slices of beef, marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and then grilled. I got my flank steak (about 600g) from RealFoodToronto.com. It was 100% grass-fed beef from New Zealand.