Bulgogi is the national dish of Korea. In order to really do it right, you can't just head on over to Cub and pick up some tenderloin and get cooking. Korean beef is grass fed and it is really remarkable just how much of a difference this makes between the bulgogi you eat in Pyeongtaek compared to what you can get in St. Paul.
For those of you who don't know where to purchase grass fed beef, I'm fairly certain most Whole Foods markets carry a few different varieties of the properly-fed cattle. If you really want the real deal, I suggest looking up a local farmer and buying direct from them. We buy our grass fed beef from a place called Cedar Summit Farm. They sell their product in 30lbs packs, quarters, and halves. If you don't know who your local farmers are or where they come from, check out the Community Supported Agriculture program, type in your zip code, and go to town. CSA is also a fantastic way to get farm fresh dairy and veggies. We buy our produce from a local farmer every May-September. We can't recommend it enough.
Anywho, once you have your two pounds of grass-fed tenderloin, cut it across the grain into thin long pieces. Place it in the following marinade for 45 minutes to an hour:
- 3 T soy sauce
- 1/2 cup rice wine (or dry vermouth if you do not have rice wine)
- 1 grated Asian pear (2-4 T fresh lemon juice if you do not have an Asian pear
- 4 green onions, white and mildly green part, chopped
- 1 T sesame seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- 5 walnut halves, chopped as finely as you can
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 T sugar
- 2 T corn syrup
- 1 T sesame oil
Ideally you can cook the bulgogi over a coal fire. If this is not an option, you can fry it over medium-high heat in a 12-inch pan, preferably cast-iron. The trick with bulgogi is that you don't want to crowd it and you only want to turn it once. This means only about 2 minutes per side and with just the right amount of juices. If you have too much marinade, you'll flood the meat and it will not cook correctly. If you have too little marinade, you won't get the right flavor.
The proper way to eat bulgogi is to wrap it in a leaf of red lettuce with some sticky rice and some kimchi.