These amazing recipes for Korean food include sizzling beef and spicy cabbage kimchi.
Food & Wine
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Quick Cucumber Kimchi
Traditional Korean kimchi usually involves tossing vegetables with garlic, salt, chiles and other flavorings and letting them ferment for days. Bill Kim marinates these cucumbers for just two hours, so they're still crisp.
Bulgogi, the Korean classic, calls for slices of rich beef; this version uses thinly sliced chicken breast, which has barely any fat at all. The chicken is best served with rice and lettuce leaves for wrapping. Kimchi, a spicy, garlicky Korean pickle often made with cabbage, is especially delicious on the side and is loaded with beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.
Underbelly chef Chris Shepherd says that after the Korean War, pasta salad became part of Korea’s culinary repertoire. Here, he serves his own version with a spicy-sweet flank steak that his cooks came up with after trying an earthy, fruity Blaufränkisch one night.
These tender short ribs are served in an intense broth made sweet with mirin and brown sugar and dark with soy sauce and sherry. "This is a variation of a Korean dish called kalbi tang," chef Sang Yoon says.
David Chang was inspired to make these playful rolls by a snack he had at Yunpilam, a temple in South Korea, where the nuns served him edamame mixed with walnuts and molasses. His rolls have an edamame-and-walnut filling; unlike other sushi rolls, they can be served warm.
Most kimchi (Korean fermented pickles) use lots of red chile flakes and are bold and spicy. This is a white kimchi, which means it's made without the red chile. Some kimchi ferment for weeks, but Andrea Reusing lets these turnips pickle at room temperature for only two days. "It's really special to have something that's just starting to ferment," she says. "It's more about the flavor of the vegetable."
Tangy pickled cabbage and spicy carrot kimchi are the key to Angelo Sosa's tofu-topped green salad. They are supereasy to make, but for a great shortcut, use store-bought kimchi (a chile-flecked Korean pickle that's often made with cabbage) in place of both.
"You see 7UP quite a bit in Korean recipes," says David Chang. "My mom cooked with it: She put it in a noodle dish, she added it to beef stock." When he wanted to prepare a quick "white" version of kimchi, Chang opted for 7UP; it adds lovely bubbliness to the cabbage. It can be served as a side dish like traditional red chile kimchi or with cold noodle soup.
Christopher Lee's simple grilled tuna and crispy-chewy scallion pancakes are terrific, but what makes the dish so sensational is his kimchi, a version of the traditional Korean pickled-vegetable condiment. Unconventionally sweetened with honey and orange juice, it's utterly original and completely delicious.
In Korea, cooks typically create stir-fries with just one kind of vegetable—lotus root, say, or potatoes. David Chang decided to break with tradition and stir-fry an assortment of vegetables, including Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips. Also unconventional is the maple syrup he adds to the dish; there are maple trees all around South Korea but not much maple syrup.
Tyler Florence makes a Korean-inspired marinade for skirt steak with hoisin sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar. With what he calls a "king-of-the-grill mentality," he boldly adds even more layers of flavor by topping the steak with a butter he's blended with caramelized shallots and shiso, an aromatic green leaf used frequently in Japanese cooking. In the United States, shiso leaves are available in Asian markets; one tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon is a fine substitute in this recipe.
"The first time I had kimchi was when I arrived in New York City in 1986," says Jean-Georges Vongerichten. "I was like, Oh my God, what is this? It’s fermented like the sauerkraut from Alsace, where I’m from, but the flavor is different. I didn’t have a recipe, so instead of fermenting, I used vinegar for the sourness." Like sauerkraut, he serves this kimchi hot.
This dish is based on the classic Korean noodle soup kal gooksu (or "knife noodles," so named because the handmade dough is cut with a knife). In the traditional version, any spicy seasoning would be served on the side, but Lee opts to mix hers right into the bracing soup, adding spinach for extra flavor.
David Chang created this dish as a play on Korean sweet-and-sour pork—but without the deep-fried meat and cloying sauce. Instead, he tosses turnips and radishes with a mix of honey and soy sauce and serves them with sautéed shiitake mushrooms that have an ingenious, crispy rice-cracker coating.
Kimchi is a naturally fermented, often chile-flecked pickle that many Koreans eat with almost every meal. A great gift for anyone who loves spicy food, this kimchi can be added to stir-fries, used as a burger topping or eaten straight from the jar.
This succulent recipe is based on bulgogi, a classic Korean dish of sliced beef that's marinated in soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and garlic, then grilled. In this version, a bit of crushed red pepper is added to the marinade for heat.