Behold one of my first successful big dinner party entrees. How the heck I stumbled upon a recipe for Korean bulgogi at that stage of my life, decidedly pre-Internet, is beyond me but hey! My boyfriend and I were house-sitting for my parents, playing grown-ups in my family’s familiar kitchen, made new because it was ours for a few days. I was itching to host a proper dinner party.
We invited several other young couples out to the suburbs for an eclectic (!) menu of cocktails on the deck, hot crab dip with crackers, Korean bulgogi with rice, and peach crisp with ice cream for dessert. We set the dining room table with my stepmom’s lovely crystal and silver, drank my dad’s wine, cranked the (heavenly) central air conditioning, and had a complete blast. It was exactly the party I’d hoped to throw.
Back then I served the bulgogi with rice and that’s still a perfect accompaniment. Roll the two into lettuce leaves, if you like, or go bigger and serve as part of a bowl of bibimbap, with raw and sauteed vegetables, a soft-cooked egg, sesame oil, and chile paste. Or, go non-traditional and build your dream sandwich, piling warm slices of bulgogi high on a crusty French roll, crowning it with spicy, sloppy kimchi. Or pickles! Or both!
2 lbs. ribeye or sirloin steaks
6 scallions, sliced thin, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1/4 c. soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (more for garnish, if you like)
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar (optional)
generous grinding of black pepper
hot rice to serve
Score steak deeply, just short of through to the other side, in a 1-inch criss-cross diamond pattern. Flip steaks over and repeat on second side. Lay steaks flat in a large glass baking dish and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together 4 Tbsp. of the scallions and the remaining ingredients. Pour half of the marinade over the steaks, turn the steaks over, and top with remaining marinade. Use your fingers to evenly distribute the scallions, garlic, and ginger, pushing the seasonings into the scores in the steak. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Prepare a hot grill or preheat broiler.
Grill or broil steaks until medium-rare, about 4 minutes per side (add time for thicker steaks). Transfer to a cutting board and let steaks rest for 5 minutes.
Using a sharp knife, slice steaks very thinly against the grain. Garnish the sliced steaks with remaining scallions and serve immediately with hot rice.