The first time I tasted this was at a friend’s house growing up.
I was just 14 and he asked if I wanted to stay for dinner. Raif said they were having barbecue, so of course I was IN. What was served that night I never expected. I was once asked if I ate a lot of Italian food growing up, to which I just replied, “Yes, but we just called it food.” Well, his mother was Korean, and this was simply how they did barbecue. They never said anything about it being Korean, for them, it was just food. That dinner opened my mind up to a lot of new ideas when it comes to food. How each of us does things may not be the same, but different isn’t always bad, sometimes it’s just different.
It has been a long time since that dinner, and I have eaten more than my fair share of bulgogi since then. Sometimes different from that first recipe I ate, but at its heart it has always been similar. The preparation is fairly simple, but always impresses people who have never had it. The marinade is 98% of the process. 1% is making sure the meat is cut nice and thin (having it partially frozen will help with that part) and the final 1% is not messing with the meat once it hits that hot pan or grill, give it time to brown and char…that is when the magic really happens for this dish!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Marinating Time: up to 8 hours
- Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- 2 pounds thinly sliced elk (loin or top round)
- 4 scallions, sliced
- 1/2 pear (Asian pear is traditional used, but you can use most types)
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean hot pepper), or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice wine or mirin
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons black or toasted sesame seeds
- Slice the meat thinly, in 3- or 4-inch pieces.
- Combine pear, garlic, soy sauce, water, gochugaru, ginger, sugar, mirin and sesame oil in a non-reactive bowl or container.
- Marinate meat for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
- Remove meat from fridge and allow to come to room temperature before cooking.
- If you are cooking on the stovetop: Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. If you are grilling: Get the grill up to a good high temp, then brush the grates with a bit of oil to prevent sticking.
- Remove meat from marinade, shaking the excess marinade off, so it is still moist but not dripping.
- Cook sliced meat, in a single layer. Do not move or flip until it is browned, about 1 minute.
- Flip meat and continue to cook until the edges are crispy and well browned, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove meat to plate and continue until all meat is cooked. 10. Top with scallions and sesame seeds and serve.