Saturday, 30 August 2014

Bulgogi - Korean Barbequed Beef (includes Thermomix instructions)

This is a delicious way of cooking beef on a barbeque - the marinade makes the meat really tender.

Listed at number 23 of the world's 50 most delicious foods (from a reader's poll in CNN Go - have a look here if you're intrigued as to what else is on it) - if you're a lover of all things beefy and barbecued and keen on Asian flavours this is something you might want to try!


If you fancy something a little different, but not too 'out there', this is a great way to cook rump* steak. One of the tastiest cuts of steak, it is also from a hard-working muscle which means it is not the most tender steak - however in this dish, the Asian pear in the marinade really tenderises the meat. And on top of this, it's packed full of robust Asian flavours - garlic, ginger, soy and onions, with a hint of sweetness (and all you need to do is blitz up all the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor or blender - so it's easy to prepare too!).

Serves four people, at 287 calories per serving.

*Rump steak in British and Australian terms, is cut from the rump primal, and is commonly known as sirloin steak in American English - see here for a further explanation.

  • 450g rump steak (weight after trimming off excess fat - if you're buying it with the fat on, you'll need to buy extra. Also, you could easily add another 2-300g of meat to this marinade if you like - remember, it's called sirloin in the USA) [770]
  • 1 Asian pear (also known as Nashi pears, available quite widely - or you could substitute Bosc/Kasier, or a normal crisp variety of pear if you can't get hold of these varieties, the peeled flesh will weigh around 100g) [54]
  • 1/2 an onion (50g) [21]
  • 4 cloves garlic [24]
  • 1 inch ginger root [4]
  • 2 x 15ml tbsp soy sauce (or use tamari for gluten free) [16]
  • 2 x 15 ml tbsp dark brown soft sugar (or your preferred form of sweetener, e.g. honey, rapadura) [96]
  • Freshly ground black pepper [1]
  • 1 x 15ml tbsp toasted sesame oil [135]
  • 4 spring onions [14]
  • 1/2 a carrot (or one small carrot) peeled [14]

You could add two or three sliced shitaki mushrooms to the marinade, and if you want it spicy, you could add some korean red chilli flakes/powder (gochugaru) to it. You could also sprinkle with sesame seeds when you serve it. Serve with rice, or you could eat wrapped in lettuce leaves.

You need to slice the beef into thin slices (like you would for a stir-fry). You might find this easiest to do if you put it into the freezer for half an hour first to firm up.  Go for 2-3mm if you you can, up to 5mm thick is good. Then make the marinade.

If you don't have a food processor or blender, you could use a fine grater and/or pestle and mortar for the onions, pear, ginger and garlic to get them to a 'paste' consistency. If you do have a food processor, peel the onion, garlic, ginger and pear, and cut the onion and (cored) pear into chunks. Slice the ginger into 'coins' and add all of these ingredients together with the soy sauce, sugar, black pepper and toasted sesame oil into your processor, and blitz until pureed, scraping down as necessary (Thermomix Speed 7 / 25 seconds / MC on, scrape down, and then Speed 9 / 25 seconds).

Mix the beef strips together with the marinade in a non-reactive (non-metal) bowl, then cut the carrot in half lengthways, and slice on a steep diagonal, about 2-3mm thick. Slice two of the spring onions on a steep diagonal, 5mm-1cm thick and add the carrots and spring onions to the marinade, and stir in.

Cover and refrigerate the marinading beef - preferably overnight if possible, or for at least an hour or two.

Before you cook the beef, slice the other two spring onions on the diagonal for a garnish and set aside.

Authentically, this is cooked over a barbecue, in a barbecue pan (with holes in it) or something similar with holes that the beef won't fall through - I picked one up cheap from TKMaxx a few years ago. If you haven't got a barbecue pan, I don't see any reason why you can't thread the strips of beef onto metal or (soaked) wooden skewers, together with the carrot and spring onion slices for an equally delicious treat, if you don't want to treat yourself to one (although asparagus tossed in a little lemon juice, olive oil and seasoned then cooked over the barbecue in one is to die for!). Threading the meat onto skewers would be a good cheat if you weren't cooking it on an outdoor barbecue too, and just wanted to griddle or grill (broil) it as some tasty beef kebabs. You wouldn't get quite the same smoky flavour, but it would still be delicious!

So, if you're cooking it over your barbecue, go fire it up, get it nice and hot (you're not trying to cook a fish over a gentle heat - you want to be able to get that beef sizzling in the pan!), and cook the beef to your liking.

As barbecuing is not an exact science for most of us, the amount of time it takes to cook your beef is going to depend on how close to the coals your rack/pan is, and how hot they are. However, because of the punchy, tenderising marinade, it's pretty hard to get it wrong, so just go with your instincts - the beauty of cooking it in a pan, means you can try a piece really easily when you think it's about there (the same with skewers - albeit you can see where you've stolen a piece!). Once it's done, serve it up scattered with sliced spring onions, and optional sesame seeds if you're using.

We enjoyed ours with rice, and some home-made kimchi (surprisingly easy to make, incredibly healthy, and seriously tasty! Keeps for ages too, so well worth having a go - my recipe is here if you fancy having a go, or you can also buy in jars, or refrigerated packets in oriental grocers) - or you could serve it with a spicy Korean dipping sauce, such as ssamjang - there's a great recipe by Maangchi here.

And that's all there is to it... Enjoy!

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