Recipe: Bulgogi

Last week I made bibimbap for the first time. My Korean cooking skills are almost nonexistent but my expert sister Jan walked me through it over the phone. Among other things, I made bulgogi to go on top of the bibimbap. (Yeah, I was cooking for 2+ hours.)

This is the bulgogi recipe that my sister uses. It has a few more ingredients that other recipes I’ve seen, but it’s really delicious. (I made a huge batch so I would have extra to freeze. You might want to halve this unless you’re feeding 10+ people)


  • 4 lbs. beef chuck roast, sliced thinly (I get the butcher to slice it about 1/8″ thin.)
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons of Garlic, crushed
  • 1 kiwi, peeled
  • 1/2″ piece of ginger, peeled and then sliced (slicing prevents it from being stringy when blended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 ripe Asian pear, peeled and cored
  • 1 cup Korean soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, green parts only
  • sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds


  1. Add all ingredients except for green onions and sesame seeds to blender or food processor and process until well blended.
  2. Put sliced beef into a couple of gallon Ziploc bags, add marinade, and mix to coat. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour (According to Jan, if you marinate the meat for too long, the acid in the marinade can “make the meat mushy.”)
  3. Cook beef (in batches if necessary) in large skillet over high heat. Add green onions towards the end.
  4. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with rice (and lettuce if desired).

When I made the bulgogi, I was struck by how easily and quickly it came togther. It only took about 30 minutes to peel/rough chop everything and throw it into the food processor for the marinade. And cooking the meat went very quickly as well because it was sliced so thinly. I’m going to try and make it for dinner more often.

Food and Families

Whew–today was crazy. I had to turn in my big monthly report for work and the baby kept waking up early from his naps. I just got my report finished, though. Yay!

Today I was thinking about some of the foods I ate as a kid. My mom is Korean and is a great cook of both Korean and American food, but some of the quick meals we would eat growing up could be kindly described as “fusion cuisine.” Some were her idea, some were the ideas of my older siblings, and I think some were entirely my invention. Most of them included either kimchi or the West’s greatest gift to Asia: SPAM! (I just checked with N. to see how SPAM was capitalized and he recommended all caps because “SPAM is too big of a food for little letters.”)

Anyway, here are some of the weird foods I remember from my childhood:

Cream of Wheat with kimchi: My mom would make Cream of Wheat for breakfast in the wintertime and we would eat it with radish kimchi. It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that most people who eat Cream of Wheat sweeten it like oatmeal–my mom only put a little bit of salt in it. I think this dish still holds up because the Cream of Wheat was essentially a stand-in for rice and it was a nice savory alternative to oatmeal.

Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup with rice mixed in and kimchi and pan-fried SPAM on the side: Another hot breakfast for wintertime. The SPAM went well with the soup and rice, and the spicy kimchi would cut through the saltiness of the soup and spam.

Rice with SPAM, kimchi, and gim (dried seaweed): This still ranks pretty high on my list of great home-cooked lunches. It’s pretty much perfect. If I cook it N. will eat it too, but only after he complains about the smell of the fried SPAM.

Plain Dduk (pressed rice cake) with Pace Picante Sauce: when I was in elementary school, I would make this snack for myself after school. I think one of my older siblings probably taught me how, but I can’t remember. I would put the dduk in a plastic bag and add a couple tablespoons of water, twist the bag shut, put it on a plate, and microwave it for a minute or so. This would kind of steam the dduk and soften it up and it would be all warm and kind of gooey. Then I would dip it into the salsa and eat it. Yeah, pretty weird, I know. Did we not have tortilla chips in the house? But to this day, when I smell Pace Picante Sauce, my mouth starts watering and I can almost taste it the dduck.

These other two have nothing to do with Korean food and are just weird.

Bagels with margarine and garlic powder: I would warm up onion Lender’s bagels, spread margarine on them, and then sprinkle garlic powder on the top. Obviously I was not too concerned with bad breath as a kid.

Microwaved marshmallows: I would put two or three jumbo marshmallows on a plate and microware them for a minute or so, watching them inflate and puff up. Then I would swirl them around with a fork until they were kind of the consistency of taffy and eat them. I had to be sure to rinse off the plate well afterwards or else the marshmallow dried hard as a rock and was a pain to wash.

Well, I’m sure there are more, but I think those are the standouts. The reason this topic came up today was that my lunch today was one of the dishes I listed–l’ll leave exactly which one it was to your imagination.

I ate some weird things as a kid, but at least I ate them in the normal way. Not like the family in this SNL sketch that N. sent me a link to today.

How about you? Did you eat any weird foods as a kid?

Korean Cooking

My mom was in town over the weekend to visit my sister, Jan. When you put Jan and my mom together, there’s bound to be a lot of Korean cooking going on–both of them are experts at it. And after many long years of practice, I am an expert at eating their cooking! I’m lucky that Jan lives only 20 minutes away from my house. Because I have more free time during the day now, I’m planning on hanging out with her more and hopefully learning how to make a few dishes.

While she was here, my mom made makguksu (not sure on the romanization), one of my favorite Korean comfort food dishes. Made with an anchovy broth, these noodles are topped with egg, dried seaweed, Korean fish hot-dog, and cucumber. You can put lots of different things on top. The sauce is made up of soy sauce, ground sesame, green onions, crushed red pepper, garlic, and a few other things that escape me at the moment. It was delicious! It also took a lot longer to put together than I remember it taking as a kid. I asked my mom if it was taking an especially long time to make for some reason but she assured me quite thoroughly that it always took this long to make and just I didn’t realize it because as a kid I only showed up at the very end. Oops.

My mom and Jan also made up a big batch of kkakdugi kimchi, made from diced daikon radish. It’s SO good. They knew it’s my favorite kimchi, and so…

…they saved this gigantic jar for me! Wow. I don’t know if even N. and I can finish this before it goes bad. It’s a race against time!

100 Days Old!

E. turned 100 days old this last week. Via Wikipedia, “In Korea it’s common to celebrate the bek-il or the 100th day of life. This tradition was born from a time of high infant mortality when many babies would die before three months of age. As a result the 100th day is a celebration of life as the baby has survived the difficult first 100 days of life.”

E. is a quarter Korean and while we weren’t going to have a traditional ceremony I wanted to go out for Korean food last week to celebrate his bek-il. However, a blizzard blew in last week and we weren’t able to make it out. N. had the day off today and so for lunch we went out for Korean food.

We drove down to a little place in Provo called Sam Hawk. Because their kitchen is so tiny, N. and I usually call in our order ahead of time. Otherwise, the wait can be up to an hour and a half, especially if you get stuck behind a large group. The first time we ate there, it literally took us two hours to get our food. The waitress felt badly for us and brought us rice crackers to snack on and Korean fashion magazines to flip through while we waited. It was funny at the time, but not that funny since we were crazy hungry. And the rice crackers sadly didn’t cut it.

So yeah, we learned our lesson: calling ahead definitely pays off. When we were there today we received our food, ate, and paid the check before some families who had been there when we arrived even got their food. We definitely got a few dirty looks as we were leaving. I felt a little smug for being in the know, but also a tiny bit guilty. But the food was really good.

We started with some dukboki, one of my favorites. It’s sort of like street food and so not every Korean restaurant serves it. I loved eating it at the street carts in when I was in Korea. It cracked me up how the vendors would wrap the plate in a clean plastic bag, put the dukboki on the plate, and then peel off the plastic bag and throw it away when you finished. This is one of the few Korean dishes I can make at home.

The banchan included seasoned black beans, potatoes, kimchi, and mung bean spouts.

N. and I both had dolsot bibimbap. E. started fussing while we were eating so I ended up holding him on my lap, but I had to be careful to keep him away from the bowl so he wouldn’t be burned.

The food was super good. After lunch we ran some errands and then got some frozen custard before coming home (lemon chiffon–yum!) So all and all, it was a lovely Presidents’ Day.