Saturday, November 5, 2011

Korean Bulgogi

I grew up in Los Angeles, where there is a very big Korea Town and every once in a while I got to go to one of those wonderful Korean Restaurants. I remember being very excited about being able to grill my own meat right at the table and those restaurants created a lifelong love of Bulgogi – Korean Grilled Beef. So, whenever I get blood deficient and I need to eat beef to make more blood– I make stir fried Bulgogi instead of grilled as I don’t have a table top grill at home and actually don’t even own a barbecue.

Traditional Bulgogi is marinated in a combination of Soy Sauce, Rice Wine, Sugar and Sesame Oil with green onions and garlic. Then it is cooked at the table by each person. However, it doesn't work so well on a bigger outdoor barbeque as the pieces of meat of so thin, but you can use this marinade for a steak and that's delicious too. But if like me, you are going to stir fry this dish, leave out most of the garlic and green onions from the marinade and stir fry those first and then add the drained beef to cook in a very hot pan. Stir fried Bulgogi doesn’t have that wonderful charred flavor that comes from grilling the meat, but it is still really good. And one of these days I am going to buy an indoor grill and do it right. Serve Bulgogi with lots of white rice and Kimchi (I’ll post my Mom’s recipe one of these days) and a green vegetable like sautéed spinach.

Korean Bulgogi

1 lb very thinly sliced beef (sliced in pinky finger lengths) – freeze to make it easier to slice or buy it presliced in an Asian market – look for Shabu Shabu or Sukiyaki beef
2 Tablespoons Shaoshing Rice Wine or Mirin
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 - 2 Tablespoons Sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 bunch of green onions – about 6 with roots and ends trimmed cut into 2” lengths
2 large garlic cloves minced
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Optional: 1 Tablespoon toasted Sesame Seeds

In a large bowl, mix Rice Wine, Soy Sauce, 1 Tablespoon of Sugar, Sesame Oil and Pepper until blended. Taste and adjust sugar if necessary – it should be a little sweet. Add a few of the white parts of the green onions and 1/3 of the minced garlic. Then add in the sliced beef and mix to coat thoroughly. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes up until overnight in the refrigerator. When ready to cook, drain the beef from the marinade, but be sure to reserve the marinade in a bowl to make the sauce later.
Heat a large skillet or wok and then add in oil until it just starts to smoke. Then add in the reserved garlic and green onions and cook until the green onions just begin to wilt. Add the drained beef and stir-fry over high heat until the meat shows just a bit of light pink. Add in the reserved marinade and bring to a boil. Put on a serving plate and sprinkle with Sesame Seeds if desired and serve with lots of white rice.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the sugar emphasizes the sweet flavor of Earth even more. The Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil bring in the Water Element and so do the Sesame Seeds. The green onions and garlic contribute the Metal Element. The Rice Wine and Black Pepper add the Fire Element. Rice brings in more Metal and Kimchi would contribute more Earth from the cabbage and more Fire from the chili powder and the fermentation. Only the Wood Element is missing, which is why this dish needs to be served with a green vegetable like spinach. Then it would be a balanced Five Element meal.

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