Posted in Foodies 'Round the World, Home Cooking, The Flavors of Asia, The Well-read Foodie

In Which the Blogger Tries Her Hand at Cooking Bulgogi – from Scratch…

Straight out of the pages of “Jamie Magazine” from October of last year…

Regular readers of this blog know this: I’ve been collecting (actually hoarding) British and Aussie food magazines for a little over a year now.

It’s something of a habit now; whenever I’m over at my local Booksale – or at any branch of that particular chain, for that matter – I find myself rummaging through the magazine bins for such gems as BBC Good Food, Delicious – UK and its Australian counterpart, Donna HayTaste Britain, and my most recent find – Jamie Oliver‘s eponymously titled magazine Jamie.  

The thing about Jamie is the fact that its articles are written with the same quirky, fun, yet totally informative touch that so characterizes Mr. Oliver himself.  The October issue, in particular, glorifies British food – and how that once uber-maligned cuisine is now getting a serious overhaul that places due importance on local produce used in season, classic flavors, regional specialties, as well as increased socio-economic awareness on the state of local agriculture.  (The cover recipe – a veal-stuffed version of shepherd’s pie – comes with a plea to support British dairy farmers who make a loss whenever male calves are born.)

But, given the title of this post, you may find yourself scratching your head and asking, “So what does Brit food have to do with Korean bulgogi?!”  Well, the recipe I used was actually in a feature on the bulgogi steak baguettes sold near the Arsenal Stadium over in North London.  😀

The original bulgogi baguettes were the brainchild of journalist Daniel Rule and his partner, Nobu Park Lane’s pastry sous-chef Shin Ji-Sun.  Originally created to give standard English stadium fare (hot dogs and the brilliant orange-colored and horrendously incendiary chicken Balti pie) a run for its money, the Korean-inspired steak sarnie stall has become one of the most recommended snack stalls in the area – and possibly in all of North London – whenever match-day rolls around.  Both footie fans and curious tourists have fallen hard for the sweet and meaty treats involving sweet-marinated beef in soft baguettes and topped with a curiously tasty mix of mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce and Chef Shin was sweet enough to share her recipe with the folks over at Jamie.

Chef Shin’s recipe involves three kinds of fruit (kiwifruit, pear, and half an apple), white pepper, and a splash of English ale (Marston’s Pedigree Pale, to be exact) instead of Korean soju or Japanese mirin.  However, I found myself without either kiwifruit or beer (as well as any form of Oriental spirit) of any sort when I decided to make this for dinner over the weekend.  What I did have were a whole apple and a lot of rum.  (It’s been too hot to make truffles, so I’ve pretty much left the bottle of dark rum alone for much of the season.)  Plus, I’ve always found white pepper rather insipid and boring – so I went with the black and things pretty much started rolling from there.

Beef bulgogi on the left; a pile of dak [chicken] bulgogi on the right

This particular marinade is rather fiddly at first, but once you’ve started soaking the meat, you can just cover, chuck it in the fridge, and leave it be till you’re ready to cook; it seriously involves leaving the meat to soak for a whole 24 hours in the fridge (or, better yet, the chiller section of the fridge).

The malic acid in the apple and pear help tenderize the meat along with the alcohol, so you don’t need to pound it to death before marinating.  You don’t need to add salt because of the soy sauce involved and you needn’t add any more oil to the pan when you cook it because the sesame oil and the natural marbling of the meat add enough fat to keep it from becoming dry and stringy.

Incidentally, it’s a fairly versatile sort of marinade as you can use it with beef, chicken fillets (for what they call dak bulgogi in Korean restaurants), pork cutlets, thinly sliced lamb loin, and I daresay that it may work just as well for such game as venison, boar, and ostrich.  Be sure to serve it with lots of good, steamed white rice, kimchi, and other sorts of banchan (Korean sides; I recommend chilled sesame spinach and beansprouts) for a really great dinner with the family.

Bulgogi

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, 1 coarsely chopped and the other finely chopped
  • 100 grams white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 50mL soy sauce
  • 50mL dark sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped + additional 3 spring onions, finely chopped, to serve
  • 50mL dark rum or pale pilsen beer
  • 50mL still lemonade or lemon-lime soda
  • 25mL water
  • 1-1/4 kilo sukiyaki-cut beef or pork or chicken fillets (breast or thigh), cut into strips

Put the chopped fruit, coarsely chopped onion, and the garlic into a food processor and blitz into a grainy puree.  Stir in the sugar, pepper, soy sauce, and oil and mix well.  Add the water, rum, lemonade, finely chopped onion, and the two chopped spring onions and stir well.  Add the sliced meat, making sure to massage the marinade well into it.  Transfer to a covered container and store in the refrigerator; you may also choose to freeze it.  Leave to marinate for at least 24 hours.

Heat up a large, non-stick frying pan and set over medium-high heat.  Cook the meat strips for 5 minutes or until well-done.  Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the three chopped spring onions.  Serve immediately.

Serves 8.

Variations…  You may choose to do what I did in the picture above and use half-beef and half-chicken to make a bulgogi duo platter.  If you want to add more heat to your meal, swap the ground black pepper for an equal amount of dried chili flakes.

As for the leftovers, dak bulgogi – the chicken – works beautifully when added to instant noodle soups; it gives them a lot of oomph and meaty interest.  Leftover beef, on the other hand, can be used to approximate those Arsenal Stadium sandwiches – in which case, teriyaki sauce, mayo, and soft baguettes (or, what the heck, hot dog buns) are a must.  ;D

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Author:

Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended earlier this year. These days, she works for a corporate governance advocacy in Makati. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel.

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