While in Durango we ate out twice; once at a private restaurant on Electra Lake and then at a bar called Olde Schoolhouse Cafe. I ate a tuna steak with a watermelon, blueberry and mint relish at Electra Lake and yummy vegetarian pizza at the Schoolhouse.
The other nights at the house we cooked. My sister Lisa and her husband Randy offered to make Bulgogi one night. We were all pretty excited about the menu and that excitement only increased as they started cooking. The combination of sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, soy, ginger and garlic were so incredible. Along with the beef and chicken Bulgogi, we had white rice, kimchee, pot stickers and a salad of thinly sliced cucumbers, bean sprouts, and scallions with crispy fried scallions and rice wine sesame dressing.
Bulgogi means “fire meat” in Korean because it is traditionally grilled over an open flame, but can be cooked in a pan. Randy did the grilling. Grilled meat always smells good, but the marinade on the chicken and beef made for an especially wonderful aroma wafting from the grill downstairs to the kitchen window. I always find it funny how men seem to flock to a heated grill. Once the first tray of meat went to the grill every man in the house grabbed a beer and headed outside to help supervise. This attraction of men to a fire will always amaze me.
The meat is sliced thin and wrapped in large lettuce leaves usually spread with ssamjang, the jar of spicy red sauce you find in the Asian food aisle. When we ate this meal, we also put rice in the lettuce leaf. It was delicious.
The fresh and crunchy cucumber salad was a perfect side dish. About the kimchee…it is an interesting dish that I was a little unsure about. Vegetables, usually cabbage and scallions, are pickled and fermented for 4 or 5 days. It turned out to be very good, so I’m glad that I gave it a chance. Here is a recipe for homemade kimchee…Lisa and Randy just picked up a jar of it at the grocery store.
This was quite possibly the best meal of the week. I will definitely be trying this out at home for Ben. He had to head back to Amarillo early in the week, so he missed this incredible feast. When I make this I will be sure to drop little hints about how wonderful it was to see Randy doing so much of the work in the kitchen with Lisa…very subtle hints.
If you were not yet convinced of how good this food was, just ask Beckett. If it made a kid this excited, you know it has to be good.
- 1/4 cup Japanese or Korean dark soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for grilling
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 3 medium garlic cloves, crushed, peeled, and grated
- 3 scallions, root and dark green ends trimmed, and 6-inch stalks minced
- 2 pounds marbled sirloin or rib steak, sliced paper thin against the grain
- Whisk together the soy sauce and sugar in a bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the vegetable and sesame oils, sesame seeds, garlic, and scallions until well combined. Add the beef, tossing it with your hands to make sure it is evenly coated on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it, allowing the meat to marinate for 30 minutes. Drain the beef, shaking off the excess liquid and scraping off the scallion and garlic.
- Grill the beef, laying the slices flat on a table hibachi. If using a grill pan, brush a generous amount of vegetable oil on the cooking surface and heat it over medium-high heat. When it starts to smoke, add the beef slices and grill to your preferred doneness, but no more than 5 seconds on each side, so the beef remains tender.
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 medium scallions, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 (4-inch) piece ginger, cut into 1/4-inch coins
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup Korean malt syrup, or 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- Lay chicken in a single layer on a cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet or rolling pin, evenly pound to 1/2-inch thickness.
- Place everything except the chicken and the sesame seeds in a large nonreactive dish or a resealable plastic bag and mix until evenly combined. Add chicken and turn to coat evenly. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 2 hours.
- Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high (about 400°F) and rub the grill with a towel dipped in oil. Remove chicken from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature while the grill heats up, at least 20 minutes.
- Remove chicken from marinade and let excess drip off. Place chicken on the grill. Cook uncovered, turning rarely, until charred and juices are running clear, about 10 minutes total. When ready to serve, garnish with sesame seeds.