“I was born in Seoul, Korea!” I happily exclaimed to the man behind the counter. I was enjoying an authentic beef Bulgogi and thought I’d try to impress the owner of this restaurant. I went on to impress (not!) by adding, “but I’ve never been there.” Duh! What a dumb blonde move. Of course, I meant I’ve never been back since my parents brought me to the USA when I was just a few months old. Ah, well. We all got a good laugh out of it, and he was kind enough to write my name in Korean for me to take home and practice writing it? get a tattoo? frame it?
Growing up in Chicago, my mom would often celebrate our time with the US Army in Seoul, Korea, by making a dinner of “Seoul Food” (teehee – I never got that joke until I was older – another blonde thing, I guess). Anyway, she made beef Bulgogi (literally: fire meat) on a special Bulgogi grill with Kimchi and Fried Rice. For my version of “Seoul Food” last night, I made my version of Bill Kim’s wonderful Spicy Korean Grilled Pork (Daeji Bulgogi) recipe I found in Food and Wine magazine with a side of Stir-fried Vegetables in Black Bean Butter Sauce (because I’ve never taken a liking to the spicy, fermented cabbage dish that is kimchi). WOW! I must say, “I was born in Seoul, Korea, and I can make an authentic pork Bulgogi to prove it”.
This dish is super simple once you find the two key ingredients: Black Bean Paste, Fermented and Hot Pepper Paste. I found both items in the dry grocery section of Uwajimaya. (Kikkoman and Lee Kum Kee, common retail grocery brands, make similar items you may find in the Asian section of your grocery store). The original recipe called for dried, fermented black beans to be soaked and then pureed, but why go to the trouble when you can buy a pre-made paste? I asked my butcher to slice the pork shoulder roast into 1/4″ thick steaks for me since they were not available in the case (I do this a lot and they are always happy to help). Make sure you plan ahead to marinate the pork overnight and then dinner will come together in less than 30 minutes.
I’ll be making this A LOT this summer! EnJOY!
- 1 cup Black Bean Paste, fermented
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 4" piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped fine
- ½ cup Korean chili paste (or any Asian chili paste)
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 3 lbs. trimmed, boneless pork shoulder roast, cut crosswise into ¼" thick slices
- Oil, for brushing or misting
- In a medium bowl, stir together the first 8 ingredients.
- On a clean cutting board, gently pound out the pork steaks to about ⅛" thick.
- One at a time, dip the pork into the marinade on one side then place into a large, shallow dish. Spread a little marinade over the top of the steak.
- Repeat this process with each piece of pork. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- Light a grill or heat a grill pan to moderate heat.
- Brush or mist each side of each pork steak with vegetable or olive oil. then grill, turning every two minutes, until nicely charred and cooked through, about 6 minutes total.