19 February 2008

Authentic Korean Bulgogi and the Truth About Oi Kimchi

You can guess that I was pretty darn anxious to taste my first ever batch of oi kimchi, right? Of course I was, so last night I made bulgogi and rice and we had kimchi, too. I tried a different recipe for the bulgogi and have some observations about the kimchi.

The bulgogi I made last night was declared, "the best bulgogi I've ever had" by none other than my food critical husband (he ALWAYS eats what's set before him, but is free with the constructive criticism...maybe that explains the best bulgogi ever). There was a short debate about how authentic my bulgogi can be considering I have not even a slight hint of Korean in my blood, and it might be that only Koreans can make authentic bulgogi, but still...I impressed myself with my bulgogi last night and that's hard to do. I bet you are anxiously awaiting the new and improved recipe, eh?

This bulbogi was good because it didn't get soggy, like the meat tends to get when it's cooked in a pan on the stove top with all the marinade. These three things are what made the difference in this bulgogi:

- real wine
- broiled it
- pear juice

At the Korean grocery up the street they sell all sorts of fun drinks. While we were there the other day picking up the ingredients for the oi kimchi my husband was looking for this crushed pear juice we used to drink a lot in Korea. He couldn't find it and lamented this as we were checking out. The owner of the store (good grief, I should get her name) asked what he was looking for and when he told her she told us that she gets it imported from Korea but KEEPS IT ALL TO HERSELF IN THE BACK FOR BULGOGI. She said, "Next time, just ask for it and I'll get it for you." That's not the first time I've heard of using pear or kiwi in bulgogi. So, I altered the recipe in my new Korean cookbook and came up with this bulgogi recipe.

4 T Korean style (Kimlan) soy sauce (if you use the Japanese kind (Kikkoman) use only 3 T)
2 T sugar
1 T honey
2 T wine (I used Cavit Pinot Grigio)
1 T sesame oil
1-2 T pear juice
2 t chopped garlic

Mix well, trying to dissolve all the sugar and honey. Pour a bit on the bottom of your marinating container and layer meat, marinade, meat, marinade until you're out of both. Let this marinate in your refrigerator for a couple of hours at least. When you are ready to cook the bulgogi, broil for about 5 minutes. I didn't flip the meat at all.

Now, regarding the oi kimchi. In my total white girl opinion, the kimchi was way too watery. I wouldn't add the boiling water at the end. The salt really pulled a lot of liquid out of the radish and cucumbers and it became this liquidy mess. Also, did Mrs. Chang Americanize this recipe? I know that oi kimchi is not nearly as hot as baechu kimchi but holy snickerdoodles, we could barely taste the red pepper in it. I added another tablespoon of red pepper powder. And on that note I'll just say that it needs to be pickled/fermented/marinated for longer than two days.

- less water
- longer pickling time
- more red pepper powder


Marie said...

pear juice. that's interesting. i really should this out because i'm so sick of eating chicken. what kind of meat should i buy? i dread going to the meat section, it's overwhelming with the all the choices.

i'm sad to hear that the oi kimchi recipe didn't work out too well. i'm planning on going to the korean market this weekend so maybe i will translate that recipe i have and we can compare. since it is from a korean cookbook, written in korean, maybe it will be more like what we had korea.

Joanna said...

i was surprised, too. it really does seem like she americanized it because it wasn't hot at all. but it has that DISTINCT korean kimchi flavor to it, i think it just needs some more time to pickle and the extra T of red pepper will help, too.

Tina said...

Maybe without the water on it, it will turn out hotter?
Thanks for the info... you know I used japanese soy sauce in my bulgogi and thought it tasted a bit too much....
I think I will just stick with your other bulgogi recipe, though I may try broiling it. I am in no way thinking I will find korean pear juice here! ha ha