It is monday again and the weather has taken a turn for the better the last couple of days and I am in love with the new warmer spring vibes. On that note, with renewed spring energy, I think it is time for one of my all time favourite recipes: Korean Bulgogi! I cannot even describe my undying love for this dish. It is amazing. If someone forced me to only eat one dish for the rest of my life (pray to god this will NEVER happen), it would probably be this one. I could eat this every day for every meal, it is that good.
The Korean word bulgogi translates to fire meat, which probably refers to the fact that the marinated meat was originally grilled over an open fire or on a barbecue. However, bulgogi can be prepared in a pan just as good. The key to making bulgogi is giving the meat the time to marinate and to refrain from stirring the meat in the pan all too much. You want the marinade to enhance the flavours of the meat and create some tenderness. And then, once the meat is in the pan, you want the sugar and the liquid to combine and create a wonderful caramelised coating covering every inch of the small pieces of meat. Continuous stirring will prevent this process from happening and we really, really want this process to happen, because it will bring the most delicious flavour to the meat. Combine the pieces of bulgogi meat with some rice and spicy gochujang sauce in a lettuce wrap and bulgogi is truly a dish that was meant to eat with your hands. I find that there is something really comforting about eating with your hands. I can advise anyone to try it with bulgogi.
My dear friend Anneloes loves this dish. I often make this dish when friends come over for dinner and after she tried it for the first time she requested my recipe. I'm not sure how often she has already made this dish for friends, family, dates and everybody else, but I am sure you can't count it on two hands anymore. Unfortunately, a few days ago, she accidentally sliced off a piece of her pinky while making my Chicken Teriyaki recipe and I feel for her so bad. I love that she liked my recipe, but no one should get hurt while making them. I even had a creepy nightmare about the accident. I love cooking, but I am a bit scared of knives and the pain they can induce on people. Therefore, I really hope, that seeing that she can now share the love for this recipe with the world even more, will alleviate the tiniest bit of pain she is having right now. Share more food and less pain.. yes definitely.
Love, lemons and enjoy this week.
ps. The nail polish in the photo below is Blogger by Picture Polish. It was a gift, since I am an actual blogger now and I love it so much. I love nail polish, glitter, blogging, sun and bulgogi. Best picture of that combination ever :)
enough for 2-3 people
- 300 gram thinly sliced beef sirloin or flank steak (see notes)
- 200 gram thinly sliced pork belly or thick strips of bacon
- fluffy, cooked rice
- gochujang sauce (available at the toko)
- 4 green onions, cut into large 2-3 cm chunks (use the green and white parts of the green onion)
- 6 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2,5 tbsp. brown caster sugar
- 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp crushed black pepper
- Mix up all the ingredients for the marinade, then pour around 2/5 of the mix in another bowl. Add the sliced pork to the bowl with the 2/5 amount of marinade and the sliced beef to the other bowl. Stir to coat the meats with the marinade and then leave to rest for at least half an hour.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan on low-to medium heat. Rub the surface of the pan using a tissue with a little bit of oil. When the pan is hot, add the pork strips. Move around so the strips form a single layer in the pan, then leave untouched for 4-5 minutes for the pork fat to render out and the marinade to start caramelising. Keep a close eye on the pan, you want the marinade to bubble, thicken and become dark, glossy and sticky, you don't want anything to burn, turn down the heat a bit more if necessary, slow and steady will win this race. If there is too much liquid in the pan, just drain the excess liquid off; we want the meat to caramelise, not boil. As soon as the marinade starts to cling to the meat, stir into the pan, coating the pork strips with the sauce. Then leave to cook further for another 5 minutes. Watch how the meat looks in the pan more than these times, if the fat looks rendered out and the marinade is like described above, the pork is done. (see my close up photos for reference) It may take a little bit longer depending on the thickness of your pork slices or the amount of fat in them.
- Halfway through the cooking of the pork, heat another pan and start cooking the beef strips. I like to do these separately because the beef will cook quicker than the pork. Once the beef is ready and glossy (after about 5-6 minutes), add the beef strips to the pan with the pork and mix thoroughly. Make sure all the pieces of meat are coated in the thick, glossy dark sauce. Sprinkle over some thinly sliced green onion and serve with the lettuce wraps, rice, and gochujang sauce. Oh and enjoy this recipe with your hands!
- For dutch readers: I usually use 'runderreepjes' and 'speklapjes', which I slice up in thin 1 cm strips. For everyone: use a piece of beef that will cook quickly, use a piece of pork that has some fat running through it.
- Any type of lettuce will work. I've used regular lettuce and iceberg lettuce. As long as it is a leafy type of lettuce that you can use to 'wrap' the rice and filling in, it will be fine.
- For rice, I like to use a sticky kind (Chinese/Japanese rice, pandan rice, sushi rice.. will all work).
- Do not use less sugar! You will not get the results you want to achieve when cooking the bulgogi meat. Do not substitute the sugar for a liquid kind (honey, any kind of syrup etc.) or sweetener. You can substitute the brown sugar for white caster sugar or granulated sugar.
- The marinating of the meats is very important. The pork and beef need to be coloured by the soy sauce and the sugar should look dissolved.
- If you do not like heat or spicy food. Use the tiniest amount of gochujang, or leave it out completely. The dish will still taste amazing :).