Bulgogi is one of the most well-known Korean dishes. It is comprised of marinated paper-thin slices of beef that are grilled and served in lettuce wraps with various banchan. Lettuce leaves tend to fall apart for wraps, so I use savoy cabbage leaves instead. Additionally, I dramatically reduce the amount of sweetener in the dish. Otherwise my version is fairly traditional. I like to serve it with kimchi, scallions, sesame seeds, gochujang (a type of thick Korean hot sauce; I use it in my hot wings), thinly-sliced fruit (Asian pear or nectarines, depending on the season), and maybe cucumber.
I live near a Korean market, and they sell pre-sliced beef specifically for bulgogi. I've seen shaved beef at other supermarkets, but it is usually a much fattier cut. You could always buy something like a top round London broil and either slice it yourself or ask the butcher to do so. Alternately, I've made the lettuce wraps with ground beef before. I find loose ground beef to be very messy in wraps so I form them into mini-meatballs when I do this. It makes a nice hors d'oeuvre.
Serves 2-4 as a main dish, more as an appetizer
- 1 lb thinly-sliced beef for bulgogi (preferably a lean cut such as top round)
- 3 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 2 tsp dark sesame oil
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp-1 Tbs sweetener, to taste (honey, coconut sugar, stevia, or Splenda would all work)
- Lettuce leaves or Savoy cabbage leaves
- Thinly-sliced Asian pear or nectarine
- Julienned or sliced scallion
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Thinly-sliced or julienned cucumber
- Combine the beef with the marinade ingredients. Marinate for a couple hours or overnight.
- Broil the beef on high or cook in a very hot cast iron skillet until browned.
- Serve in lettuce or cabbage leaves with assorted garnishes.