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Sesame Grilled Beef

  • SERVINGS: 6
  • HEALTHY

Korean cuisine is probably the best kept food secret in Asia. From the moment Steven Raichlen and his wife landed in Seoul, they ate extraordinarily well. And despite the time of year (January) and the weather (frigid), they had barbecue everywhere they went. Most of the meat is grilled to order on a tabletop brazier, which helps warm your frozen fingers as you eat.

Korean barbecue comes in two main varieties, one of which is bul kogi. This type of barbecue consists of thin shavings of beef steeped in a salty-sweet sesame marinade and cooked until crisp on a charcoal grill that resembles an inverted wok. The sugar and sesame oil caramelize during cooking, giving the meat a candied sweetness. The dish takes its name from the Korean words for "fire" and "meat."

Bul kogi is eaten like moo shu or fajitas, using a lettuce leaf instead of a pancake or tortilla. You roll the grilled meat in a romaine lettuce leaf, dip it in the sauce and eat it. The result is a fabulous contrast of sweet and salty, pungent and fruity, crisp and chewy.

Marinated Meat

  1. 2 pounds shell steak or sirloin, sliced across the grain 1/4 inch thick
  2. 1/2 cup soy sauce
  3. 1/3 cup sugar
  4. 3 tablespoons sake or dry sherry
  5. 8 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 4 scallions, minced
  7. 2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
  8. 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  9. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Dipping sauce

  1. 1/2 cup soy sauce
  2. 1/2 cup sake
  3. 1/4 cup sugar
  4. 1 Asian pear—peeled, cored and finely chopped
  5. 4 scallions, finely chopped
  6. 1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
  7. 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

serving

  1. 1 head of romaine lettuce, separated into leaves
  1. With a meat pounder, pound the meat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap until you have wide, thin strips. In a shallow bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar and sake; stir to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Add the meat and turn to coat with the marinade. Set aside to marinate for 1 hour, turning the meat from time to time.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, sake and sugar; stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the Asian pear, scallions, onion and sesame seeds. Pour the sauce into 6 small bowls.
  3. Light a grill. When the fire is hot, arrange the meat on the grill and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Transfer the meat to a platter and arrange the romaine leaves alongside. To eat, wrap a piece of meat in a lettuce leaf, dip the bundle in the Asian pear sauce and pop it into your mouth.

Suggested Pairing

The aggressive hops in American brown ales contrasts beautifully with the seasonings in this dish, and the chocolatey malt stands up to the beef. Consider Brooklyn Brown Ale from New York.

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