Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bulgogi (I Vant To Eat You)

It’s a good thing I’m not squeamish, as there is a lot of meat handling in this recipe. I don’t mind handling a bit of meat, but this Korean dish involves a lot of knife work and then flattening the thin red strips with your hands. You can read anything into that you wish.

The Bulgogi from the book (image courtesy Jason Thomas)
With the ever so classy ‘Four Weddings’ on the TV, I started this very simple dish with an eye to serve it as a starter at a family BBQ. Fillet steak is sliced finely, flattened between your fingers and then marinated for a few hours in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar and crushed sesame seeds. After being flash fried on the BBQ, you wrap it in lettuce leaves with a drizzle of dressing.

You can't go all Bobbitt on the fillet steak, you must be gentle. After all, it's very expensive

This recipe was beautifully easy. A very sharp knife helps though, and it became obvious very quickly that trying to watch TV while slicing through fillets of steak is not the smartest idea. I cannot even blame the ubiquitous glass of wine, as I was abstaining due to a mild touch of over-consumption at last night’s wedding.
I had no intention of actually taking any responsibility for cooking the meat though. I get a little panicky around a BBQ and firmly believe in division of labour. I will marinate, slice, skewer, chop and bake anything you want, but don’t ask me to put it on the BBQ and expect it to stay edible.

Toss it every now and then, and soon it will be tender and tasty

When the time came, we washed lettuce leaves, and threw together the dressing. The slivers of meat needed to be cooked for only a minute on each side, so it was really an exercise in precision. My cool-headed husband is much better suited to the task, although my father-in-law was quick to point out that there was an ‘awful lot of smoke’.

If I had cleaned the BBQ like I was meant to, we wouldn't have had to cook it on the foil (a major BBQ faux pax apparently)
Turns out the smoke was caused by marinade from the last (and only) BBQ I ever attempted, and clearly cleaning wasn’t part of my repertoire. No matter, as soon as the bulgogi was on it was off again, and we stood around making little parcels of meat and lettuce, the juices dripping down our chins, kids looking on in fascination.

My thoughts:
This is one of those dishes that looks really impressive and tastes really delicious, but the whole time you are scared that someone is going to find out just how simple it really was.

This was my version, a bit more successful than, say, the Japanese eggplant

This is a great dish for people who like getting personal with their food, both in the preparation and the consumption. It’s an interactive dish and lots of fun.
As all meat should be.

And you can read anything you like into that as well.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to find more out about the recipe.

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