BEEF BULGOGI (Korean grilled beef served on lettuce leaves, for four)


1 pound well-marbled, boneless sirloin, tenderloin or skirt steak

4 large garlic cloves

1 cup peeled, chopped, ripe Asian or Bosc pear

¾ cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger

1 scallion chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar or honey

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

To serve:

whole fluffy lettuce leaves for wrapping, such as green leaf oak leaf or romaine; and whole perilla leaves (optional)

any or all of the following: hot cooked short grain rice; long green hot peppers, sliced crosswise into 1 inch chunks; small peeled garlic cloves; carrot and cucumber spears or sticks 1 to 2 inches long

Ssamjang (Korean barbecue sauce)

1. Wrap beef in plastic wrap or butcher paper and place in freezer for 1 to 2 hours to firm up.

2. Cut beef across the grain into thin slices. If cooking in a skillet, slices should be less than 1/8 inch thick; do not worry if they are a bit ragged. If cooking on the grill, uniform slices, 1/8 inch thick, are best.

3. In a food processor, combine the garlic, pear, onion and ginger and process until very smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

4. In a bowl or sealable plastic bag, combine steak, marinade, scallion, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and pepper and mix well. Cover or seal, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

5. When ready to cook and serve, prepare garnishes. Lettuce leaves should be mounded in a large basket or platter. Small dishes can hold remaining garnishes. Keep vegetables cold.

6. If using a cast iron grill pan or large skillet, heat over high heat. Add all the meat and its juices to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until most (but not all) of the liquid has evaporated and the meat begins to brown around the edges. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately, directly from the skillet (this will keep the meat hot). If using a charcoal or gas grill, heat to high. Working in batches if necessary, place the sliced meat on the grill and cook, turning often just until cooked through and browned, about 2 minutes. If desired, heat an empty cast iron skillet and use as a serving dish (this will keep the meat hot). Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

from Julia Moskin, The New York Times

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