KOREAN FIRE MEAT
The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook
by Ardie A. Davis, PhB; Chef Paul Kirk, PhB; Carolyn Wells, PhB
Lee and Kelli Cho Davis: This dish is always popular when Lee and Kelli and their son, Elliott, host gatherings of family, friends, and business associates. The Korean term for it is bulgogi. Bul means "fire"; gogi means "meat." Thus it is meat grilled by fire. Kelli told us the marinade for this dish is basically the same marinade she and Lee use for kalbi, or beef short ribs. Since the rib meat is thicker, she doubles the quantity and marinates the ribs overnight.
Serve this with rice or noodles and coleslaw or kimchi. Kelli presents the bulgogi on a bed of butter lettuce leaves. Guests have the option of wrapping meat servings in a lettuce leaf. Sometimes she combines the meat with noodles—a good way to serve more people with less meat.
• 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste (Kelli says "more is always better")
• 1/2 cup good-quality soy sauce, or to taste
• 1/2 cup cola or any carbonated soda
• 1 or 2 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
• 1 medium onion, thinly sliced or minced
• 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
• 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 pounds thinly sliced sirloin steak (see Note)
Combine the sugar, soy sauce, cola, scallions, onion, sesame oil, sesame seeds, pepper, and garlic in a nonreactive saucepan. Simmer gently over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add more sugar or soy sauce to taste. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Separate the sirloin slices and place them in a flat glass or plastic container; cover the meat with marinade. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Since the meat is thin, 2 hours is sufficient.
Prepare the grill for medium-hot cooking. Grill the meat strips for about 5 minutes total, turning once. On rare occasions when you don't have access to a grill or you don't feel like grilling, the meat can be sauteed in a cast-iron skillet or wok.
Note: If your butcher is unwilling to slice the meat paper-thin, find a Korean grocer that sells the steak already sliced. Likewise for the thin-sliced beef short ribs. Another opt/on is to freeze the meat and, with a very sharp knife, cut it while still frozen but slightly thawed into thin strips.
Tip: Use a grill topper or aluminum foil on top of the grill grate to avoid losing the meat to the fire. The thin strips will fall through your grill grate.