Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bittman's Bulgogi (Korean Barbeque)


One of my fondest childhood memories is my parents taking us to eat Korean barbeque.  We'd make the trek from Brooklyn to Flushing, in Queens.  I would arrive home with my jacket smelling like the grilled beef, and it was Carnivore Nirvana.  When I moved to the Boston area, my sister would eagerly make the treks with me to Koreana in Cambridge.  The waitresses would bring us nearly a dozen side dishes, and we would cook the meat on the tabletop grills.  The beef would be flavorful and juicy, but just slightly crisp and charred at the edges.

Bulgogi Background

When I saw Mark Bittman's Backyard Bulgogi article, I got excited.  Sure, he's not Korean, but the man can cook, can't he?  I liked how simple the recipe was, but it sure didn't look like the time my summer term college suitemate from South Korea made bulgogi (I remember a lot more soy sauce, and sliced white onions).  The verdict: It didn't taste quite like bulgogi, but it was still pretty damn good.  You really can't go wrong with marinating beef in a paste of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and scallions.  The only real change I made was to broil the beef, since the last time I used my gas grill it caught on fire -- no, not the way it's supposed to.  But the broiler did the trick, and it was close to Carnivore Nirvana.

Beef Bulgogi
By Mark Bittman in The New York Times
Time: 45 to 150 minutes

1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
8 or more garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 pounds sirloin, rib-eye or skirt steak, thinly sliced, or 3 to 4 pounds beef short ribs, boned and thinly sliced
Boston or loose-leaf lettuce leaves for serving
Gochujang (Korean chili-bean paste) for serving.

1. Combine the scallions, garlic, sugar, pepper, soy sauce and oil in blender and purée, adding water as needed to form a smooth mixture. Toss the meat with the soy mixture and marinate for 15 minutes to 2 hours. Heat a grill with the rack 4 to 6 inches from the flame; the fire should be as hot as possible.

2. Remove the meat from the marinade, and grill until browned outside but still rare inside, no more than a couple of minutes per side; do not overcook. Serve the meat wrapped in lettuce leaves, with gochujang for dipping.

Serves 4 to 6.


  1. Your explanation and pictures made my mouth water-I have bookmarked this. Beef with slightly charred edges is definitely nirvana!

  2. I love Korean BBQ too, but I don't make it at home near enough. Thank you for sharing today...this recipe is making me want to get into the kitchen (even though it is 105 degrees right now!) You are a blessing! Have a wonderful Sunday!


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