Friday, March 18, 2016

Spending Time With Bulgogi and Gochujang

I didn’t completely want to, but the other night I made my own Bulgogi and Gochujang Paste, because I was making Bibimbap. The gochujang was actually on purpose, but the bulgogi was because Trader Joe's parking lot was so crowded I thought a rave was happening inside. I wasn’t that wrong. When I looked in the door, there was a horde of frantic shoppers snapping up lots of brightly packaged snack foods and six packs of wine and boxes of beer. (Sorry, that should be the other way around.) Anyway, I turned right around and went to my usual supermarket and bought unseasoned beef.

Let’s define some terms here. Gochujang is that Korean Chili Paste, which is becoming the new Sriracha. It’s everywhere. In my quest to use up my white miso, I decided to make gochujang instead of buying it. Bulgogi is marinated beef strips often served in Bibimbap, which is a Korean rice dish topped with vegetables (and beef too, if you like). And it’s served with gochujang. I’ll talk about the Bibimbap in my next post.

For the Bulgogi, I intended to leave out the sugar or honey, but I chickened out. It does have a sweet component that I decided I would miss. But instead of just SERVING the bulgogi with gochujang paste, I decided to add some into the meat marinade, because...why not?

Bulgogi can be served simply with plain rice or fried rice or rice noodles...if you’re not doing a whole Bibimbap thing. Here’s the recipe to get you started.

¼ cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
2 tbls. sesame oil
1 tbl. finely chopped or grated ginger
1 tbl. toasted sesame seeds
2 tsps. honey
2 scallions, chopped
2 tsps. gochujang paste (Recipe below or use the fabulous stuff from a jar)
1½ lbs sirloin, sliced into thin strips (or buy it in strips)

Whisk together all the ingredients, except meat, in a large glass bowl. Add the beef and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight. 

Oil a stove top grill pan or spray a nonstick pan with nonstick spray and place on medium heat. Remove beef from marinade and cook for 3 minutes on the first side or until nicely browned on the edges and 1 or 2 minutes on the other. Serve immediately or set aside to be added to the Bibimbap. 

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Your Korean grandmother would ferment her gochujang for weeks, months or longer(!). This is quickly made with a casual hanging out on the counter before you add the last ingredients. It has a hoisin sauce-like consistency. It’s SO good. I used this batch for the bulgogi and to serve with Bibimbap, but gochujang is good next to any Asian rice or meat (or chicken or anything) dish.

My Gochujang
Based on Homemade Gochujang


½ cup water
1¼ cups brown sugar
½ cup white miso
2 tbls. chili powder, from the supermarket (Korean chili powder will make the sauce hotter and much redder. Use it if you prefer.)
½ tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. chili pepper flakes
½ tsp. dry sherry
½ tsp. rice vinegar

Over medium heat, stir together the water and brown sugar until completely dissolved. Stir in the miso until the mixture is smooth. A fork will help to break down the miso.

Add chili powder, cayenne and chili flakes and stir over low heat for 3 minutes. The mixture should be simmering gently. Take it off the heat and put the uncovered pot on the counter until it cools to about 100°F, or slightly warm to the touch.

Stir in the sherry and rice vinegar and let cool completely. Pour into a jar, cover and refrigerate.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

That looks yummy, but I think if I tried to say it out loud, I would likely tie my tongue in a knot. Now I have to see if I can find that chili paste in my local stores because I must try it now. I should try making my own bibimbap because I rarely ever get a good one at some of the places in the neighborhood around my office (and none at all where I live).

Sue said...

Hi Rach,
SPELLING it was no picnic either. I think I would like almost anything with a fried egg on top!