Brad Smith (jesus_h_biscuit) wrote,
Brad Smith

My Favorite Korean Recipes

I love Korean food, there's something very comforting and satisfying about it. To me, it is the soul food of all Asian cooking. In particular I love bulgogi, which is a sweet and savory beef stir fry that is marinated in soy, sesame oil, sugar, green onion, garlic, and a secret that surprised me when I first found out about it. Part of the marinade uses kiwi fruit. Like papaya, it has a natural enzyme that tenderizes the meat and imparts a delicate flavor as well. In Argentina, they marinate steaks in the skins of papayas for the same reason. With the bulgogi, I always have kimchi, which is a kind of pickle traditionally made from cabbage but can be made from cucumber, turnip, daikon, or any number of vegetables as well. I like the cucumber kimchi, but the cabbage is my favorite. The cabbage is first salted for several hours, then marinated in a mixture of chili pepper, garlic, ginger, onion, and other seasonings. In Korea as well as Thailand and other Southeastern Asian countries, meat and vegetables are wrapped in lettuce leaves and eaten that way, which is sometimes done with bulgogi as well. If you're not up for the task of making your own kimchi, it can sometimes be found in grocery stores - usually Asian markets or specialty stores. Also, if there's a Korean restaurant nearby it can also be purchased there as a side item. I personally think that homeade is better, plus it's always fun trying something new.

Kimchi (Korean Pickled Cabbage)
  • 1 or 2 Napa (Chinese) cabbages, depending on how much kimchi you plan to make

  • Sea salt or other non-iodized salt, about 1 cup

  • 5-10 green onions

  • 4 heaped tablespoons Korean red pepper powder (available at Asian markets)

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoonful fish sauce (optional, but it helps authenticate things)

  • 1" to 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine (I like a lot of ginger, personally)

  • Half an onion, cut into thin slices (optional)
  1. Cut the cabbages lengthwise into quarters, then crosswise into 1-2" segments, discarding root end. Wash the cabbages and shake the pieces dry, then place the cut pieces into a container or plastic bag (a small cooler with a lid works best). Salt the cabbage, mix the salt in well with your wet hands and squeeze it into the cabbage to initiate fermentation. Cover the cabbage and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 6 hours or overnight, stirring occaisionally.

  2. Remove the cabbage and drain the brine, then rinse in 3 changes of cool water, finally squeezing as much water from the cabbage as possible and place in a large mixing bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients into a paste, thinning with a little water as necessary. I recommend a food processor for this, but stirring well will also get the job done. Combine the kimchi paste with the cabbage, mixing well so that each piece of cabbage is covered in the paste. Pack the fresh kimchi into a storage container and allow it to marinate, covered, for at least a day (3 is best) at room temperature or up to four days in the refrigerator before it's ready.
Kimchi makes great fried rice and is very interesting in soups. I've even put it on hamburgers and had it in place of coleslaw, but I'm a big fan so take that with a grain of the salt. You can also make excellent savory kimchi pancakes with a soy-rice vinegar dipping sauce from leftover kimchi.

Bulgogi (Korean Beef Stir Fry)
  • 1 lb. sirloin steak, or any lean cut of beef, sliced thinly (freeze it for about 15-20 minutes for easier slicing)

  • 1 kiwi, peeled and pureed or mashed well with a fork

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 2" sections

  • 1 large onion, cut into slices

  • 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Place the beef in a sealable container and set aside.

  2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and stir to mix well, dissolving the sugar. Pour the marinade over the beef, stir it well to coat all slices and marinate in the refridgerator for several hours or overnight.

  3. Drain the beef from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Heat 1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. When the oil is shimering, add the beef and stirfry until it almost reaches your desired level of doneness, adding reserved marinade as necessary to make a thick sauce. You can also broil the slices of beef about 2" below the broiler, until your desired level of doneness is reached. If broiling the bulgogi, heat the reserved marinade in a saucepan and boil, stirring constantly, for a few moments until it reduces and thickens - use this to baste the bulgogi before broiling and as a sauce for serving.
I serve the bulgogi with sticky rice, stir fried veggies, lots of kimchi and slices of pickled garlic, and good, cold beer. I eat the bulgogi and the kimchi together, one piece of each for every bite.

Tags: cooking, food, recipes

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