My daughter and I attempt to make the classic Korean BBQ dish… Beef Bulgogi. We’ve also been busy baking cookies, rice krispie treats and more!
One positive that has come out of the Covid-19 Pandemic is that my 14 year- old daughter has been so bored, she’s actually taken an interest in spending some time in the kitchen with me! I’m loving it! Not sure how long it will last, but I’ll take it!
My daughter, Anna, and I have been focusing on making one recipe a week. We started off with an easy favorite (that she complains I don’t make enough)… Homemade Muddy Buddies (or Puppy Chow, as I like to call it). To make this treat a little healthier, I omit the butter and decrease the powdered sugar from 1 1/2 cups to a 1/2 cup (which makes it plenty sweet). I get why she loves this stuff… it’s addictive!
Next on her wishlist… making Rice Krispie Treats. A classic childhood treat (that I think I only made once or twice when my kids were young.) We followed the original recipe exactly, although, there are healthier versions I’d like to try sometime.
Before we even finished the Rice Krispie Treats, Anna announced what we were going to make next… Snickerdoodles. Not sure where that came from, I had never made them! Before I could say, “Sure” she had already googled a recipe. No healthy modifications. Just a traditional, classic Snickerdoodle recipe.
As we prepped the cookies, it was great to see Anna start to build her confidence in the kitchen… measuring, cracking eggs, and mixing. We had fun rolling the cookie dough in our hands and then in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
The first batch of cookies we kept in balls and they turned out smaller and softer. For the second batch, she decided we should flatten the dough balls out before baking, so they’ll be larger and crunchier. (Hence, the different sizes in the photo!)
The Snickerdoodles were yummy, but we agreed that the “buttery” taste was a bit much. So, next time she’d be willing to try a “healthier” recipe that doesn’t use so much butter. (I’m on the look-out!)
Korean Beef Bulgogi
After making 3 sweet treats, I suggested we try cooking an actual meal. Anna was reminiscing about a delicious meal she enjoyed when we were on vacation in Boston last summer… what was the name of it? After a quick search on the internet, she remembered what it was! Korean Beef Bulgogi. The slightly spicy beef dish was so tender and flavorful.
“Let’s make Korean BBQ!” Ummm, this is a little bit out of my kitchen comfort zone. After reading the recipe and the long ingredient list, I was thinking this was more effort than I usually like to put into a meal! But, I’ve got to credit my daughter for helping me branch out and try something totally new! Let’s do this!
The next week we made our shopping list and headed to the grocery store together! Luckily, the “international” aisle at Publix came through and we were able to get all of the ingredients we needed. I noticed that there was a bottle of Korean BBQ Sauce that we could simply buy… a short-cut I would normally take! But, my daughter did not want to skimp on any of the ingredients. We had to be authentic and follow the recipe exactly!
Special Ingredients: Gochujang red pepper paste, toasted sesame oil, reduced-sodium soy sauce, fresh ginger, toasted sesame seeds, green onion
3 Simple Ingredients (I already had in my kitchen): brown sugar, fresh pear, garlic cloves
The recipe calls for boneless rib-eye steak… yikes, that’s an expensive cut of meat. (One step below a filet-mignon). For half the price you could substitute sirloin steak or even flank steak. We decided to pick up both cuts of meat to try as an experiment. (Verdict… the rib-eye steak won, but the sirloin steak was still very, very good!)
Most of the work for prepping Korean Beef Bulgogi consists of making the marinade and slicing the beef. Easy enough, but it was a little time-consuming for us. Although, this was a great chance for Anna to measure, grate, and even practice her knife skills.
Once the marinade was complete, we poured it over the beef in a resealable bag and let it sit in the fridge overnight. We had a bag for the ribeye (Gourmet) and a bag for the sirloin steak (labeled Peasant… that’s her sense of humor).
Since I don’t yet own a cast-iron skillet, we decided to grill the beef instead of cooking it on the stove-top. This was a quick process. The thinly-sliced beef only needs about 2-3 minutes each side.
Once the steak is cooked and transferred to a plate, it’s time to garnish with green onion and toasted sesame seeds.
On The Side
To remain somewhat authentic, Anna actually wanted to serve Kimchi. (We found a pre-made version in the refrigerated produce section of our grocery store.) Instead of rice, Anna also decided she wanted to serve Ramen noodles.
We prepared the noodles before cooking the beef and only used a quarter of the spice packet to cut down on the sodium level. We also drained the liquid (since this was supposed to be a noodle soup).
To add some more veggies to the meal, we prepared a microwaveable bag of broccoli.
As an extra special touch, we served this meal using Bento-style plates. Even though these plates may not be authentic to Korean culture, I was excited to have a chance to use them!
Amazon Affiliate link: Japanese Traditional Bento Box 6 Compartments Plate
After all our hard work, we really enjoyed our meal! Everything was delicious (except for the Kimchi, sorry)! Anna seemed pleased! Next time, (if there is a next time) we felt we could cut the beef even thinner.
I’m sure our version doesn’t even come close to authentic Korean BBQ, made by a Korean family. But, I’m happy that my daughter, and I, were willing to try something new and learn along the way.
*The recipe we followed for Korean Beef Bulgogi is from Damn Delicious. The printable recipe below includes the original ingredients, with instructions written in my own words.
Korean Beef Bulgogi
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless rib-eye steak (or sirloin steak)
- 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp Goghujang (Korean red pepper paste)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 fresh pear, peeled and coarsely grated
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- cooking spray (for the grill)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- Place steak, still in its original store packaging, in the freezer for about 30 minutes. (This will help make the steak easier to slice.) Remove steak from the freezer and slice across the grain into thin 1/4-inch slices. (Discard large chunks of fat.)
- In a medium bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, gochujang, brown sugar, garlic, pear, and ginger. Stir to combine.
- Place meat in a gallon-size resealable bag. Pour marinade sauce over the beef, close bag, and toss to fully coat the beef. Place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Turn the bag a few times.
- Preheat a grill for high heat. Lightly spray the grate (or grilling pan) with oil.
- Place the beef on the grill and discard the remaining marinade. Cook beef for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, flip beef, and cook 2-3 minutes or until slightly charred and cooked through.
- Transfer beef to a plate. Garnish with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately