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.
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.
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.