Monday, June 1, 2009

Korean Thinly Sliced Ribeye - Bulgogi and Steamed Cabbage

Korean food has become very much mainstream and many people now know bulgogi. My most recent trip to a Korean restaurant was one where my family and I were the ONLY Koreans in the joint. The rest of the eaters were Chinese, Russian, Japanese,Filipino, Caucasian - and seeing that was a very interesting experience for me. People want to eat Korean food and I am excited about that.

But most Korean restaurants here don't do steamed cabbage as an option of wrapping your meats. We've seen the dduhk (thinly sliced rice cake), the moo (thinly sliced radish), the ssangchoo (red leaf lettuce) but no steamed cabbage, which is a pity because it is simply so good. Steamed cabbage is slightly sweet so it really goes well with bulgogi as well as other Korean marinated meats. (Spicy pork or just pork belly with steamed cabbage is also great.)

Bulgogi Marinating Mini Lesson

Korean beef is generally based on a good marinade and if you have a good one, you can do a lot of things with it. The following marinade can be used to marinate flank steak, which then can be grilled and sliced across the grain for a really nice meat; flank steak, kalbi, or bulgoki can all use this marinade. Another trick to marinating and saving time - it doesn't hurt to do MORE and actually the effort to do more is well worth it - because it doesn't actually take more time to marinate more meat. I usually do a triple portion, and then I have enough to freeze two packs of whatever (kalbi, bulgogi or flank) and then I can quickly defrost it if I want to make something with it in the next month or so. So when you buy your meat, just buy extra with the thought that you'll freeze some to have ready for a quick meal later.

Bulgogi Marinade
for about 3-4lbs of meat (easily doubled)

1/2 cup soy
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup sake
2 T minced garlic (or more if you like it more garlicky)
1/4 green onions finely chopped
sesame seeds
black pepper

Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Have a clean storage container ready and dip each slice of bulgogi into the marinade and place into your storage container. Continue until you are done with all the beef.

There are two fry pan methods of cooking the beef - one that gives you lots of extra liquid (which husband LOVES) and one that gives you no liquid and just a really flavorful beef (which is what I love.) The liquid saucy version means that you have to cook the beef in a cold fry pan. Put the beef in a fry pan and then turn on the heat and cook it over medium heat until done.

The non-saucy, more caramelized version means that you start the beef in a HOT fry pan. Heat up your fry pan and then place the slices in there and cook over medium high heat, quickly until it is all cooked through.

Printable recipe
Steamed Cabbage

It's a bit odd to me to be explaining how to steam cabbage, but if you've never cut one up to steam, it can be a bit strange. How do you cut it? What do you do with it? I thought I'd just show some pictures and explain.

Cut your cabbage head in quarters (with the core on the bottom.)

Cut out the core on each of your 4 pieces.

For the prettiest leaves, tear out the middle section of the cabbage as the leaves aren't flat and they are somewhat curly and not smooth. If you aren't concerned about it, don't worry - you can just use it all. If you want it to look more refined, remove the center core and use it in fried rice. Separate the leaves and steam in a steamer for at least TEN MINUTES. (sometimes it can take longer - you want the leaves to be nice and tender)

Steamed cabbage leaves.

Lay your bulgogi in the cabbage leaf and top it with sahmjang (Korean soybean paste) and green scallions.

Peekaboo! The tastiest flower you'll ever eat.


Christina Kim said...

I like the idea of the using steamed cabbage to wrap the bulgogi. I think I'm in your husband's camp -- bulgogi with lots of juice!!

Marta said...

Beautiful photos, I feel like I'm looking into a precious coccoon of sorts :)
I know what you mean about having people excited to eat your food. I was pleasantly surprised when i saw Bobby Flay feature arepas (our national dish) in one of his "Throwdown" episodes. Funny, i never wtach that show, and the only time I watched it, it was about Venezuelan food! It filled me with a bit of pride to see people in NYC chowing down on my homeland's staple :)

Juliana said...

Wow, I love Korean BBQ, I usually by the marinate for the I can make it from scratch. Great pictures, they look really yummie!

Jean said...

I'm so glad I happened to find your post via Tastespotting. I'm Korean too and have eaten tons of bulgogi and ssam in my lifetime, yet never thought to use steamed cabbage to wrap my fillings - how brilliant! I'm always looking for ways to reduce my carb intake (I could eat an entire pot of rice in one sitting) and this steamed cabbage will be such a wonderful alternative. Thank you!!

It's Just Betty said...

Hi Ms. Choi!
I don't know if you remember me from TMAHS days, but Jen Y. gave me your blog to read and its really good! =)
Glad to see all is well!

Danny and Esther said...

Ok! Joanne...I have never made my bulgogi with a recipe :)
I am getting old, and my food has not been very consistent I am very thankful that someone is keeping up with what & how much to use....

Anonymous said...

made it for bunch of friends! huge success! they loved it...but what i loved the most was how easy it was to prepare! thanks WOM!

chocoholic said...

I'm so excited that I found your blog and that you have a listing for Korean recipes. My fiance and I are leaving South Korea in 11 days and he is preparing a list of foods he wants me to learn how to make.

sex shop said...

So much helpful data for me!

Ac said...

Hello...this may be a dumb question but bul go gi made from Rib Eye Steak? Also what can you replace the sake in the marinade? Last one, can you replace the sugar with natural sugars like pineapple juice, and if so much would I use?

Joanne Choi said...

Bulgogi is a cut of meat available at Korean markets. It is ribeye thinly cut. I've seen people who aren't close to a Korean market going to great lengths to thinly slice ribeye. It is possible to do so, by freezing a steak and then thinly slicing it. It's not the easiest way to make it however.

Pineapple juice is a tenderizer - too much could turn your meat into mush. I'm guessing honey would be an option as well as agave syrup. Similar proportions as to the proportions I've already given.

You can leave sake out. Or just a splash of wine if you so desire.

Anonymous said...

I just found your site. I am now STARVING! I am going to shop for the ingredients tonight...our Safeway butcher shop will slice meats to order, so I'm sure I can get the steak sliced the correct way. Then I will make this for dinner tomorrow night. It's my birthday, so will have several friends and family members over. I only wish I could go ahead and cook this tonight. (Well, really, one should always 'practice' a new dish before serving it to company, right? So, yeah, think this will take a bit of practice after I get home from the store. LOL!)

Anonymous said...

Love and have tried many of your recipes! Would love to see one for japchae!

Anonymous said...

So glad to find your site. I first fixed Bulgogi in Ethiopia where our boys learned to fix it in High School. My daughter is a Holt adoptee so it will be great to have more authentic Korean recipies


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