Sunday, September 26, 2010

Korean Barbecue Feast

my husband (on the left) served in the united states army for 5 years after college, before i ever laid eyes on him. 12 of those months were spent at camp greaves, korea, about 2 hours north of seoul. apparently he discovered a love for ramen there because since i have known him, he has consumed copious amount of it. yes, the ramen that comes in orange squares with spice packets. he spices it up with korean red chili powder or cheese, even a stray mushroom or green onion has found its way into his ramen bowl. it seems to be the easiest korean meal for him to replicate but i often hear him talking about the other dishes he loved - bi bim bap, spicy cucumbers, bulgogi, yaki-mandu, and of course his favorite korean beer - OB.

ever since our discovery of H-mart, an asian market near us, i have been thinking about making him a traditional korean meal. perhaps this challenge was just the push i needed because i found myself doing all kinds of research about korean food.
i settled on the traditional bulgogi (barbecued beef) over rice, with some sides including kimchi (fermented cabbage), spicy cucumbers, and yaki-mandu (fried egg roll).
kimchi takes a little forethought because it needs to ferment for at least 24 hours. some even think the flavor is better the longer it spends in fermentation. however, it seems no korean meal is complete without it, so i had to include this cabbage dish. the same goes for sticky rice, a integral part of nearly every meal of the day. (since kimchi is such a classic dish, i followed this recipe to a T.)

the yaki-mandu was the most labor intensive dish. filled with beef, chicken, shrimp, or pork, this fried dumpling-type dish also includes cabbage, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and soy sauce. a simple dipping sauce of tamari, red pepper, and sesame seeds completes this sure-to-be-inhaled finger food.
a quick and easy side of spicy cucumbers has a wonderful spicy bite contrasting the cool cucumbers. this was by far the easiest dish. i even had most of the ingredients already in the house.
last, but not least, the bulgogi - my favorite. marinated for 5 hours and quickly seared on both sides, this thinly sliced rib eye was super tender and full of flavor.

after tonight, i realize ramen doesn't do korean cuisine justice, but now i've at least scratched the surface. as for my husband? he has already requested the bulgogi again. i may have just scored myself some major points!

adapted from the essential asian cookbook

1 lb rib-eye steak, thinly sliced
2 tbs sesame seeds
1/3 cup Tamari Soy Sauce
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 green onions including the white parts, thinly sliced
1 tsp ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs agave nectar
1 tbs  sesame oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
couple grinds black pepper

combine all ingredients and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
sear over medium-high heat for 1 minute per side. serve over hot rice.

adapted from

1 lb ground pork
1 large yellow onion
2 cups carrots
1/4 large napa cabbage, diced and boiled, squeeze out excess water
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, diced
2 eggs, divided
1/8 cup tamari soy sauce
16 oz round wonton wrappers

pulse onions and carrots in food processor until uniformly chopped.  in a large bowl, combine onions and carrots with cooked cabbage, green onions, mushrooms, 1 egg (lightly beaten) and soy sauce. add ground pork and mix well with your hands to combine.
whisk 1 egg in a small bowl and set aside. spoon teaspoon amounts of pork mixture into center of wonton wrappers.
using your finger, smear egg wash around half the edge of the wonton wrapper. fold in half and pinch to seal. repeat with remaining pork mixture and wonton wrappers.
fry filled yaki-mandu 2 minutes per side and serve immediately or keep warm in 145 degree F oven until ready to serve.
serve with dipping sauce: 1/4 cup tamari soy sauce, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp red pepper paste, 1 tsp sesame seeds.

Spicy Cucumbers
adapted from

1 hothouse cucumber, quartered and sliced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp tamari soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp agave nectar
2 tsp red pepper paste

sprinkle salt over sliced cucumbers in a colander and let sit for 1 hour. whisk remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl and toss cucumbers well. serve immediately or store in fridge until ready to serve.

a special thanks to those who read and voted for my first foodbuzz project food blog entry. this is my entry for challenge #2 - the classics. contestants are asked to pick an ethnic classic outside our comfort zone and keep the dish as authentic as possible.


  1. What a great looking Korean feast! Lucky husband!

    All the best, Fiona

  2. bulgogi is my favorite to order out! I was actually just considering trying to make some but ended up doing something else for the challenge. So funny this recipe has agave nectar! Who would have guessed!

  3. Great food the photos look amazing! I would have never have thought of creating something like the spicy cucumbers!

  4. Great recipe, I love how you made it healthier too. Good luck on PFB. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  5. you definitely went above and beyond! good luck!

  6. What a delicious feast! The yaki mandu look especially good. Good luck in this round!

  7. Wow, this is my first time reading your blog but the "Korean Feast" caught my eye as I'm Korean. WOW!!! I'm so proud of you for tackling such a complicated cuisine!!! You actually made Kimchee??? Most Koreans even buy their kimchee because it's such an ordeal! Good for you!!! Your husband is very lucky. Yaki Mandoo is one of my husband's favorites as well. Hope you make it to the next round!!!!


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