Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cooking Challenge Week 35 - Marinating - Bulgogi and Thai Cucumber Salad

It's a Neglected Cookbook Project double feature!  Both recipes are (slightly) adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection: Asian, which my brother and his wife gave to me for Christmas years ago.  It's a well-written, beautifully-photographed book, and yet somehow I never found myself cooking from it.

So a few weekends ago I picked it out of the NCP pile and starting leafing through.  Knowing the marinating challenge was coming up, these two just jumped right out at me.

I know the ingredient list for the bulgogi looks long, but the marinade and the sauce use mostly the same ingredients in different quantities, so it's really not that bad.

Bulgogi (Korean BBQ)

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 green onions, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger paste (or finely chopped ginger)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp water
  •  1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha chile sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
Make the marinade: Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with the sugar to form a rough paste.  (Alternately, if you don't have one, use a cutting board and the flat of a heavy knife to mash them together.)  Transfer the paste to a small bowl and add the remaining marinade ingredients, whisking well to combine.  Set aside.

Make the sauce just as you made the marinade, combining everything in another small bowl.  Refrigerate until needed.

Cut the beef across the grain as thin as you can manage (1/8" or less is ideal).   Placing the beef in the freezer for 30-45 minutes before slicing can help firm it up and make it easier to get thin slices.  (Mine actually weren't so good, I need to get my knives sharpened.)

Add the beef slices to the marinade and toss to mix.  Cover and refrigerate 1-3 hours.

Prepare a hot fire on a charcoal grill, or preheat a grill pan on the stove on high.  Brush the grill rack/pan with the canola oil.

Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry, discarding the marinade.  (I tried to get most of the sesame seeds off, afraid they'd burn, but really they didn't, so there's no need to be too fussy.)  Working in batches, arrange the beef in a single layer on the hot pan.  Sear, turning once, until crisp and browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Wipe down and re-oil the pan between batches if necessary.

Here, I served it over rice, drizzled with the sauce, with a side of...

Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 2 lbs. cucumbers
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 red jalapeno or other fresh red chile, seeded and julienned
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
Peel the cucumbers, halve lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  Cut crosswise into 1/4" thick slices.  Place in a colander, sprinkle with 1 tsp of the salt, and toss to mix.  Set aside to drain for 1 hour, then pat the cucumbers dry.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, the remaining 1 tsp salt, and the rice vinegar.  Heat until the sugar and salt dissolve, about two minutes.   Set aside to cool.

To assemble the salad, in a large bowl combine the cucumbers, shallots, and chile.  Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over and toss well.  Garnish with the cilantro leaves, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

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