Ian Martorana

Bulgogi

Bulgogi

I will start this recipe with the disclaimer that I am not, in fact, Korean. This won’t be an authentic recipe in the truest sense, but I cobbled it together through my own attempts at different recipes, and it was really damn good.

Bulgogi

Ingredients

  • Boneless short ribs (or another meat with nice marbling)
  • Soy sauce
  • Asian pear
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Mirin
  • Sriracha or Gochujang
  • Cashews
  • Cilantro
  • Rice
  • Scallions

Meat Preparation

Remove your boneless short ribs from the package and place them in zip lock bags, then put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes. After thirty minutes, remove and slice the short ribs against the grain, as thinly as you can (you want them to cook quickly over high, high heat). Then, place them into the marinade. Speaking of which…

Marinade

Using a microplane zester (if you don’t have one, get one), grate two gloves of fresh garlic and a healthy knob (a tablespoon-ish?) of fresh ginger into a bowl. Then grate the Asian pear. A side note here: all of this is a pain and totally sucks. But, grating this into a fine, mush-like consistency (rather than dicing/mincing for marinades) really does infuse the flavor better than other methods. It’s a bit tedious—and watch the tips of your fingers—but it’s worth the effort in the end.

Then, add a tablespoon or two of mirin (I used mirin because I rarely have sugar in my pantry because #summerbody. If you want to use sugar, I would start with a teaspoon and add it slowly to avoid an overly sweet marinade), and as much sriracha or gochujang as you want depending on your spice tolerance. Think of the pear and mirin as the sweet components and your hot sauce as the heat component, and balance accordingly. Add a bunch of soy sauce (like half a bottle or more depending on how much meat you have) and whisk to combine. Then taste it. It should have a sweetness and saltiness mixed with some latent heat and snap from the ginger. Adjust the marinade accordingly before adding your meat and let sit in the fridge for a few hours.

Rice

Cook your rice in a rice cooker according to the instructions (again, if you don’t have a rice cooker, buy one. They’re 20 bucks from Target, or wherever. Target doesn’t pay me for the endorsement but it’s where I got my rice cooker).

Pro tip: If you want to jazz up your rice a bit, try cooking with stock or stock/water combinations, rather than just water. I still like to use unsalted stock here, as it gives me more control over the level of seasoning in the dish, but you do you. In this instance, I did ¾ homemade dashi to ¼ water.

Chop cashews and cilantro and dice the green bits of the scallions (if you’re wondering where the scallions are in the picture, congrats! You’re super detail oriented. I didn’t have any at the time, but they’d be good here. If you didn’t notice, don’t scroll up, just carry on), and mix into the rice when it’s finished.

Meat Cookery

Get a cast iron skillet rip roaring, burn-your-kitchen-down-but-not-really hot and add a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil (something with a high smoke point). Meanwhile, strain the meat from the marinade (while reserving some of the marinade). When the oil is barely smoking, add your meat to the cast iron skillet and cook to your desired doneness—this likely means no more than 30 seconds if you cut the meat thin enough. Don’t overcrowd your pan—cook in batches if necessary. When you’re done cooking your meat, add some of the reserved marinade to the pan, lower the heat to medium, stir constantly and reduce for a nice sauce.

Then, plate up and eat: Rice, meat, sauce.

Bon appetit.