Starting today till Sunday, it’s Korean Mania!! Korean food is so much more than just kimchi and kimchi and kimchi (although there’s really nothing wrong kimchi, I quite love it as a matter of fact). I’ll be doing a few recipes that I hope will inspire you to try it out at home too.
Why Korean food? Hmmm, well….I’ve been doing a lot of Japanese dishes and I guess the transition is almost natural. I had planned to make my own kimchi just to see how it goes because they claim just about ANYONE can make kimchi. But I am having difficulty finding the gochugaru (pic below), which is Korean red pepper flakes, the main ingredient for kimchi.
Most of the shops sell the paste type but not the dry powder type. When I asked the lady in the store if she had gochugaru, she just said, ‘Oh, finish-loh….’ I’m not sure if that was the truth cause her face tells me she has no idea what I was talking about. Then as quickly as she said that, she turned around and asked me if I would like to buy some homemade kimchi, RM12 / RM17 a tub. I don’t know how much gochugaru costs but since they always give out kimchi for free in Korean eateries, that was rather expensive. Although some have said that if you can’t find gochugaru, you can use normal red pepper flakes or cayenne, I think the taste just wouldn’t be the same. You might have some sort of pickled dish but it wouldn’t be kimchi.
Anyway, let’s kick off Korean week with the famed bibimbap dish! Bibimbap basically means ‘mixed meal’. And that’s really what it is, you place an assortment of vegetables on top of rice, raw or semi cooked, add some meat bulgogi (although this is still optional) and serve it with a raw or cooked egg on top.
When you’re ready to eat, you just toss everything together in the rice and dig in! I purposely cooked some beef bulgogi to go with this dish. Bulgogi’s usually cooked on a barbecue-like pan, this is more the meaning of the dish rather than referring to its spiciness. I didn’t have any Korean barbecue pan so I used my normal frying pan.
Bulgogi has its own distinctive marinade. The special item is fruit purée, either apple or pear. I could totally make my own marinade but I wanted to test out what they have in stores and see if I could customise my own next time. Here’s what I got from the shops;
The ingredients on the label for the marinade are soy sauce, sugar, pear purée, roasted sesame seeds, apple purée, black pepper, garlic, rice wine and ginger extract. Although this is totally a cheat’s version for making bulgogi, nobody can tell you otherwise if you totally enjoy EATING it.
BEEF BULGOGI RECIPE
Lean beef, sliced thinly
1/2 cup of bulgogi marinade
Half a tablespoon of gochujang
Half a white onion, grated to a paste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Place the thinly sliced beef into a sandwich bag. Pour in the bulgogi marinade, gochujang paste, onion paste and sesame oil. Leave to marinade overnight in the fridge.
2. You can use the barbecue or grill to cook your beef, but I used my frying pan. Take out the beef from its marinade and cook them. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds in the end.
1 bowl of cooked rice
Seaweed, cut into strips
Cooked beef bulgogi
A dash of the gochujang paste
1 egg, cooked slightly with the yolk still raw
1. Heat some water in a pot till rolling bowl. Have also a bowl of ice water ready.
2. Put your julienned carrots into the boiling water for 1 minute. Take it out in a slotted spoon and plunge it immediately in the ice water to stop the cooking. Repeat the same thing for the zucchini.
3. Drain the carrot and zucchini.
4. Place cooked rice in bowl. Place your egg in the middle and arrange your vegetables, seaweed and bulgogi surrounding the yolk. Add a squirt of gochujang paste or more.
5. Mix everything together and enjoy!