Bulgogi is a Korean dish of meltingly tender, thinly-sliced beef seasoned in a delicious soy and sugar marinade. We serve it in lettuce cups with lots of bright vegetable side dishes.
I was a pretty picky eater as a kid. If I could smother something in ketchup it was usually safe but I wasn’t what you would call adventurous (no fish of any kind, nothing mushy). Kids are so weird though. My favorite after-school snack was crackers smeared with cream cheese, sprinkled with garlic powder. I thought I was such a gourmet. Matt liked condensed milk sandwiches. And weirdest of all, my brother’s favorite snack was smoked oysters dipped in Thousand Island dressing. This was when he was ten, and no, we didn’t live on the set of Dynasty.
Anyway, the point is that I was a picky little brat except when it came to Korean food. I wouldn’t eat mashed potatoes for all the money in the world but give me seaweed and a bowl of kimchi and I was set. In fact to this day, my comfort food is toasted seaweed with rice, avocado and kimchi.
My favorite Korean dish is Bulgogi (in Korean, literally “fire-meat”) which is very thinly sliced beef that has been marinated in a delicious sweet soy mixture and then grilled or pan-seared. For some reason I always thought of this as a complicated restaurant-only dish. I was wrong. Turns out Bulgogi is not only delicious, it’s also super easy to make.
This is a very simple take on the classic combination of radishes and butter. In this case the butter has been replaced with toasted sesame oil which has a wonderful rich nuttiness that pairs beautifully with the crisp radishes. Maldon Salt is my favorite flaky sea salt but you could use fleur de sel or whatever kind you prefer. It’s so simple but it’s incredibly delicious.
A crunchy, spicy red cabbage salad flavored with miso and ginger. Ideal as a side for Asian meals, or as a standalone lunch. Just don’t call it a slaw!
When I was thinking about what I wanted to serve alongside the Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps we were planning on making, I knew I wanted something bright and fresh to counter-balance the rich grilled beef.
That’s when I decided to take our Asian Cabbage and Fennel Salad recipe and mix it up a bit. I love, love, love miso and the addition of it gives this dressing a richness that is almost creamy, though there’s no mayo or any dairy in it. It’s actually almost a nutty flavor. Matt said it tasted like the peanut sauce you get with satay, but even better (and there’s no peanut in it either). It also happens to be vegan and can be made gluten free if you use tamari in place of the soy and use a GF miso, like this one).
It’s possible that I have scurvy because recently I cannot get enough citrus. And not like regular old lemons and grapefruits. Fancy fruit. Last week it was kumquats. This week, key limes.
The fact that they are both adorably wee versions of regular-sized fruit may have something to do with it. I admit it. I am undeniably attracted to Lilliputian produce.
Now I’m going to tell you a secret about key lime pie. You actually don’t need key limes to make it. Regular, grocery-store Persian limes taste just as delicious. I had never seen fresh key limes before (and they weren’t that expensive) so I decided to go for it but don’t fret if you can’t find them.
I love tart drinks but I hate commercial sour mix (too many memories of cheap margaritas and the horrors that come from imbibing them with youthful abandon). What’s nice about this cocktail is that the tart flavor comes from three kinds of citrus (lemon, lime and kumquat) so it’s fresh and light, not cloying and chemical-tasting.
This was Matt’s favorite of the three cocktails we made using our Kumquat-Ginger Syrup.