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grill baby, grill

Recipe: korean bulgogi

Uh, it’s getting hot around here *tugs at collar*. Am I the only one who closes her eyes and dreams of snow? Dreams of The Tele*? Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my summer. I am currently enjoying the hell out of my summer such that there is very little time. Peter recently tweeted that summer is a slow time on the blogs. It’s very true. I’ve also noticed Blogger Blah has been going around the ‘hood. People blog for different purposes. It isn’t wholly unexpected to one day find your mojo has disappeared. Mine is more of a waxing and waning, but that is easily remedied. I have two rules regarding my relationship with urb:

1) Maintain a repository of recipes for those stretches when you can’t or don’t feel inspired to cook or bake. I got into this habit during my treatment last year. While I like to maintain a steady posting schedule, life doesn’t work that way.

2) Life always comes before the blog.

* Tele – short for telemark skiing referring specifically to the telemark turn which differs from the alpine (downhill) turn in that only the toe of the boot is connected to the binding and the heel is free to pivot resulting in a graceful technique and skiers who deem themselves superior to all others (and rightly so). *snort*

the view from east maroon pass

I know that second one sounds like common sense, but it’s really easy to lose priorities when you’re into the mucky muck of blogging. I’m talking about the big picture like life and death. More life than death, of course! As I told Andrew the other day, “don’t dwell on death except to recognize it as a boundary condition to life” (not that Andrew is the type to dwell). Get out there, yo! Part of the value of blogging is sharing information and experiences – things you keep fresh by living your life. I’m busy, but I’m also enjoying the summer. I command you to do the same, however it is you choose to enjoy it. Just don’t hurt yourself or anyone else, alright? Have some fun while you’re at it.

So, just a couple of flower pics and we’ll get this ball rolling. You can see the rest at the photo blog: day 3 and day 4.

king’s crown

sunflowers and larkspur

This is another one of those “expanding my horizons beyond Chinese food” posts. We have rather mediocre Asian cuisine here in Boulder County with the exception of some pretty good (but expensive) sushi. What does a girl have to do to get some decent Korean food around here?! Apparently, she’s got to make it herself. Summer is a perfect time to get your grill on.

slicing half-thawed beef chuck

and apple, a pear, an onion

You know what I love about Korean food? Kimchi. My parents used to make their own kimchi when I was little (again, because we lived where no one made good Asian food) and I used to sneak into the fridge to snarf a few bites. Okay, but there is so much more to Korean food than kimchi. I fell in love with galbi a couple of years ago and now I even know where I can go to get properly sliced short ribs within 60 miles of my house. That’s a pain though, and so I went rifling through the blogosphere in search of another good barbecue recipe… Something like bulgogi.

grate the apple

squeeze the juice

Barbara recommended Ellie’s blog, Kitchen Wench, to me a few months back. Not only does Ellie have a beautiful blog, she’s witty and snarky. I love snarky ladies. Oh, and she’s Korean! I went traipsing through the blog in search of a recipe for bulgogi and I found her family recipe. Extra bonus.

grating a pear

pouring in the marinade

Her recipe differs from a few others I found (well, none of them are the same and there is something wonderfully beautiful about that), but I wanted to try Ellie’s as it contains two pieces of fruit. It’s possible to purchase pre-sliced beef for the recipe, but that’s a long drive for me. I just did what my mom always does when she makes Chinese hot pot – I sliced my own. The trick to getting a good thin slice is two-fold 1) you need the meat to be half thawed and 2) you need a good hard, sharp knife. What is half thawed? I kept the beef frozen in our freezer for a couple of days and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, I sliced it up – it was the perfect degree of thaw for cutting.

sesame oil, green onions, let it sit overnight

After marinating, I cooked the beef up in two ways. The first was on a grill-top griddle, but the winds were ridiculously high that day and our crappy grill had trouble getting that nice caramelization on the beef. The second method was done on the stove in a wide and shallow sauté pan. Both results were pretty fantastic, but I am partial to the nice browning I was able to achieve indoors. I’m sure the grill would have been great had we not had freak high winds. Just remember that you can’t really cook this on a normal grill grate because the meat will fall through and you will be totally stuck out for dinner.

on the grill-top griddle

Bulgogi is like a leaner, less messy version of galbi in my mind. Easier to eat too. I even scored some kimchi to serve along with it. The kimchi’s cold, spiciness pairs well with the hot-sweet-savory beef. It’s like a little party in my mouth and now you are all invited. Love the grill.

ready to dive into that

[print recipe]
from Kitchen Wench

2 lbs (1 kg) thinly sliced beef sirloin, sliced 2-3mm thick (I used beef chuck)
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
1 nashi/Asian pear, peeled (I used a bartlette)
1 sweet apple, such as fuji, grated
2/3 cup Korean soy sauce (’kanjang’), but you can substitute it with Japanese tamari soy or Chinese light soy sauce in a pinch
2 tbsps toasted sesame seed oil
2-4 tbsps sugar (this will depend on the sweetness of your pear)
2 green onions, finely sliced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

If you can’t find the beef already sliced, you can freeze the meat and then thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Using a sharp and heavy knife, slice the half-thawed beef against the grain. Squeeze juice from the apple over the sliced beef and set aside (I wasn’t sure what to do with the remaining apple bits, so I gave it to my dog). Grate the onion and pear into pulp. Ellie says you can blend it together, but it makes the marinade watery. Mix the pear and onion pulp with the soy sauce and crushed garlic. If it’s not sweet enough for your tastes, add sugar and taste until it meets your liking. Place the meat in a bowl or a ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Add the sesame seed oil, sliced green onions, and black pepper. Massage the marinade into the meat for about 1-2 minutes, making sure none of the slices of beef are stuck together and that the marinade has been distributed evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic or seal the ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least a few hours, ideally overnight, and cook over a griddle or in an unoiled non-stick frying pan. You can reserve pan juices to serve over your rice (really really good suggestion).

39 nibbles at “grill baby, grill”

  1. Veron says:

    My favorite Korean dish! I learned to use the pear from a korean co-worker of mine…ever since then it was bye-bye bulgogi bottled sauce! Thanks for the mouthwatering pictures!

  2. rose says:

    Ooooh! We’ve been on a korean kick lately! I’m sorry you don’t have many Korean restaurants around. Come visit SoCal! That looks delicious.

  3. sarah says:

    yes, there is absolutely more to korean food than just kimchi, but korena food wouldn’t be korean without it. gotta have it everyday. my mom swears it is the cure to every disease on this planet.

  4. White On Rice Couple says:

    We do as you say. We just got back from getting our butts out there and now there is finally a bit of time to visit those we love. Although we much prefer to be able to see you guys in person. We’ll get you some of Diane’s home batch of kimchi. Everything looks damn tasty as always. Especially with the cute lychee’s sitting in the back waiting to be dessert. Todd

  5. Jie says:

    i tried this in a local korean restaurant, and they were really good. have a bowl of good!

  6. Nora says:

    When I think of Korean food nowadays I think of that Korean drama Jewel in the Palace. My favorite parts were the ones where they were cooking.

  7. Peter says:

    Darlin, you got mojo…look at that beef…gorgeous! I haven’t had bulgogi in awhile…I’ll have to remedy that.

    PS, thanks for the shout out!

  8. Phoo-D says:

    This looks beautiful and very approachable! I haven’t delved much into Korean or Chinese food at home, but really need to try more because we are well over 100 miles away from decent takeout. I can’t agree with you more about getting out there and living up summer.

  9. Rosa says:

    A wonderful recipe! That bulgogi looks so tasty!



  10. Y says:

    I heart kimchi. Summer in your neck of the woods looks just as amazing as Winter does! I might blog less in Summer, quite possibly because it’s too hot to bake :P Otherwise I’d like to think I’m capable of letting life come first.

  11. Kevin says:

    Bulgogi is one of my favorites and this recipe is a good one. I like the use the leftovers in bi bim bap.

  12. Tartelette says:

    I am so making this next week!! Nothing to add really…other than enjoy the summer! I know you love ski season and I always think of summer as a way to make you appreciate winter even more!

  13. Lisa is Bossy says:

    Interesting you mentioned those Blog Blahs… any chance you’ve been over my way lately? HAHA! I almost felt like your entry here was an entire comment that could have resided in my latest blog post. But beLIEVE me, I’m certainly living’ this summer. I really do think that’s what’s got me in my blog rut…just too busy out having a good time to think up things to blog about! Not the worst predicament ever…

    Glad you’re enjoying your summer Jen! Not only has my blogging lightened, my blog visiting has as well so I don’t get around as often as I’d like. But I always still go to yours first. :)

  14. Astrid says:

    I just had to comment on the exquisite beauty of those top three photos. Your photos are always amazing, but something about these three really moved me. I know you live in a beautiful area, but so do I (Switzerland), and I know it takes more than natural beauty to make such fabulous photos.

  15. Gab* says:

    Yum! I had bulgogi at a Korean restaurant recently and loved it, now I can make it at home! I love love love summer but I can understand that if you’re a skier winter is more your thing!

  16. TheKitchenWitch says:

    I adore bulgogi!!! I love the idea of using leftovers for bibimbop!

  17. Manggy says:

    But Jen, if life comes before the blog, I’ll lose my readers and my ranking etc etc etc etc! Actually with the insane rains around here, cooking seems to be coming to the fore again (too bad I don’t have a set-up good enough for indoor photos in bleak weather!).
    Korean food is teh bomb, and bulgogi is king. I dunno if this is authentic, but spicy in the form of gochujang is also great in my book! ;)

  18. Pinky says:

    Oh I love that larkspur photo. There is nothing like coming up on a meadow full of purple and yellow. My personal favorite growing up were the hyacinths. I love visiting your blog not only for the food, but the reminders of how amazing the mountains can be. It makes me miss home a little, but in a good way.

  19. Valérie says:

    I had never heard of bulgogi, but it sure looks appetizing!

    I also keep a stock of recipes and pictures – not so much for when I have less time to blog, but more in case I have a bad streak in the kitchen and nothing blog-worthy comes out of it.

    Keep on enjoying summer!

  20. Asianmommy says:

    Looks wonderful! I’m going to have to find a Korean restaurant to go to.

  21. Erin says:

    I’ve never had anything like this before, but it sure does look delicious!

  22. Lori says:

    I love that picture of the mountains and thos clouds. Wow those clouds. Big, billowy, cream puffs!

    This bulgogi looks amazing too. We do have an amazing Korean restaurant here with the sweetest older lady. I think I go back just to see her sometimes.

    I have noticed this blah blog slump.

  23. Katie says:

    Great recipe – never tried the pear and apple trick before…I just posted a recipe on my site recently for the chicken version…the little Korean grandma whose recipe I use eats it with a pinch of rice on a toasted square of nori…fabulous!

  24. cindy says:

    this summer has been busy, busy and too hot to bake in our air-less home. your rules on blogging are right on :)

    the bulgogi looks delicious! my mom sent me home last week with two gallon freezer bags full of bulgogi…all i have to do is grill:) i’m making some cucumber kimchi to go with…my favorite type of kimchi, aside from daikon. now i want korean food asap!

  25. Simone (junglefrog) says:

    You’re so right in that blogging does seem a little quieter these days and I am no different; if the sun is shining I want to go and play outside rather then sit behind the computer (or behind the kitchen stove) I really do love your pictures. Stunning as always!

  26. Caitlin says:

    I’ve found myself wandering away from the blogosphere this summer too – too many things to do outside, too many people to hang out with; too much time just spent indoors would just make me unhappy. I feel lucky though – there’s a halfway decent Korean place just a couple towns over from me. Chinese, on the other hand? Yeah, that’s gonna have to be homemade!

  27. Mollie says:

    Oh yeah, this is going into the moo rotation at my house. I never had good Korean food around me (or was just oblivious to it…) and have recently discovered how good it is… totally have to make this.

    And I can always count on you to set the priorities straight! :)

  28. jenyu says:

    Veron – I love the pear, makes all the difference!

    Rose – I used to live in SoCal, so I know what you mean :(

    Sarah – kimchi *is* the best medicine.

    WoRC – mmmm, I didn’t know our special D made her own! Even more reason you need to buy that ranch in CO and move out here :)

    Jie – oh, how i wish.

    Nora – I’ve never seen that, but I love movies/shows that incorporate cooking.

    Peter – Awww, such a sweetie :)

    Phoo-D – wooop!

    Rosa – thank you :)

    Y – yes, I totally hear you on not wanting to bake in summer. Glad you have your priorities straight :) xxoo

    Kevin – oooh yes, great idea!

    Tartelette – ha ha, definitely. I do love summer, but yes, starting around.. July 5th I am pining away for winter again!

    Lisa – no, definitely better to be too busy to blog (with good stuff) than to be too bored to blog ;) I try my best to read the feed, but I rarely hop over to comment anymore unless it’s something that really riles me up!

    Astrid – you are very sweet and thank you for that lovely comment (yes, you DO live in a phenomenal area!! wow)

    Gab – well, I do love summer and believe it or not (shhh! don’t tell anyone) by the end of April, I am ready to move on from winter (winter doesn’t really leave my town until May). I’m just glad winter is longer than summer where I am ;)

    TKW – me too. Will have to try that next time. oh yum.

    Mark – ha ha ha! It’s easy to get wrapped up in all of that, but when I think about it long term, it makes me lose my appetite. So I totally agree with you. Screw the rankings (but not the readers – my readers tend to be pretty awesome people, so I’ll happily keep them if they’ll keep me). I love bulgogi, but galbi is soooooo much fattier (ummmmmmm) and I think I like it more. Just that it’s fattier and lo – there it is on my ass :( hee hee. What is gochujang?!? If it’s spicy, I wanna try it!

    Pinky – the mountains are indeed amazing. They can also be miserable (I didn’t photograph all of the mosquitoes I had to battle while shooting the flowers – that would just ruin it for me all over again). Still, I’ll take mountain mosquitoes over humidity any day. I hate humidity.

    Valerie – My cooking inspiration comes in spurts. There are times when I go 1-2 weeks with no desire whatsoever to try a new recipe and to shoot it as well ;)

    Asianmommy – :)

    Erin – thanks!

    Lori – I’m jealous! Yeah, the slump. People just aren’t in the mood for turning on that oven or the stove top right now. Too much fun to head out and do stuff :)

    Katie – that sounds awesome!

    Cindy – no way! How awesome is your mom?! Oh, and I love daikon kimchi. Actually, I love just about anything kimchi, but daikon is sooo up there. Mmmm.

    Simone – Absolutely. Get out and enjoy! We’ll all get together come fall for some great cooking and hot drinks by the fire :)

    Caitlin – Agreed. Summer here is so brief that it seems if you don’t take advantage of what it has to offer, it’s gone. Lucky you to have a Korean restaurant nearby. We have neither good Korean nor good Chinese near here :( pooo.

    Mollie – Knew you’d love this one! :) You guys are near Boston? Should be some good places there (though I don’t personally know of any).

  29. Manggy says:
    It makes EVERYTHING better ;) I should use it more often, really!

  30. jenyu says:

    Manggy – now I have to go find some ;)

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    I really love it. Kimchi&Bulgogi !!

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  35. alice says:

    I found Kitchen Wench’s site through this post and made her kimchi recipe. I’m only mentioning it because I think you would really enjoy it a lot also and it goes amazing with this bulgogi. I can’t imagine my life without cooking and I am so grateful for people like you and KW for directing me to new and delicious recipes.

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    […] not want to bother my friend, although I do plan to compare recipes with her when I see her next). use real butter had a bulgogi recipe that she had in turn gotten from Kitchen Wench, a blog written by a Korean […]

  38. Cai says:

    I love Kitchen Wench too! I made this for friends and family a lot of times and they’re always a hit. :)

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