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Korean Beef Bulgogi and Homemade Kimchi

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If you are able to find a perfect grill, preferably charcoal, don’t hesitate to try these classic Korean culinary delights. The bulgogi meat is sliced thinly and only needs a few hours to marinate. The kimchi is a fun science project to share with kids (and adults) and awaken our foodie curiosity.

Although soy sauce, sesame oil, gojujang paste, ginger and garlic, might not have been readily available in those times, I believe that Gengis Khan and his raiding mongols ate something similar… even the fermented pickled cabbage “kimchi” was essential to their diet. 

Homemade Kimchi

Jar of KimchiIngredients

  • 1 whole Chinese cabbage (mostaza China) washed, and sliced into 1 inch wedges
  • ½ cup sea salt (sal marina)
  • 4 to 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of minced ginger
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp of Gojujang paste OR 1 tbsp of red chili flakes mixed with 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
  • 1 peeled small carrot and cut into matchsticks 
  • matchsticks of daikon radish (optional)
  • 3 whole scallions in ½ inch slices

Directions

  1. Recommended: wear rubber gloves throughout the following processes.
  2. Place washed and drained cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Rub salt throughout and place a smaller lid with weights to press down on the cabbage as it releases water for 2 hours. After 2 hours or so, rinse the cabbage several times to eliminate the salt and let drain in colander for 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Return drained cabbage to large bowl and mix all of the following ingredients thoroughly and wearing gloves.
  4. Place the final mixture in a sterilized jar and press down so that mixture is submerged in it’s own liquid. Place the top and allow the mixture to ferment for 3 to 5 days depending on preference. It is best to set jar on a plate and away from light. 
  5. This is when the magic occurs… Lift the lid every day to release the gases, and use a sterilized spoon to push the mixture back under the liquid. You can taste a sample every day to decide when it’s perfect. I recommend the 3rd or 4th day.

Bulgogi

Beef BulgogiIngredients

  • 1 kilo of beef, lomito is best. A lesser cut like lomo or solomo is also good but will need to marinate for more hours.
  • 1 pear (preferably Asian pear, but any pear works)
  • 1 onion
  • 10 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp of minced ginger
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • ⅓ cup of soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • Several thin slices of carrot — a Korean tenderizing trick
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Vegetarians and vegans can use this same marinade on fresh or reconstituted mushrooms.

Finished presentationDirections

  1. Partially freeze the meat for the best thin slices. Mix with all of the marinade ingredients for several hours or overnight. 
  2. Sizzle on hot grill until cooked to your liking and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

A fun bulgogi party idea: beef or mushrooms, lettuce cups, nori squares, steamed short grain rice, kimchi, sliced cucumbers, soy sauce, siracha, and more… Guests can make their own hand rolls or use little bowls and chopsticks.


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