Bulgogi meatballs recipe defies custom, however its taste stays Korean

Bulgogi Meatballs

Complete time:25 minutes

Servings:8 to 10 servings (makes about 35 to 40 small meatballs)

Complete time:25 minutes

Servings:8 to 10 servings (makes about 35 to 40 small meatballs)

Till only a few years in the past, I winced each time I heard somebody use the phrase bulgogi to explain something apart from the basic Korean dish of marinated, thinly sliced beef. Bulgogi tacos? No, thanks. Bulgogi cheesesteak? Cross. Bulgogi burger? (Wait, that is perhaps good should you swap out the ketchup and mustard for some spicy ssamjang. However I’m getting forward of myself.)

I was a Korean meals traditionalist — ironic for an educational who teaches about third-culture children, a time period used for individuals who develop up in immigrant households and forge a singular “third tradition” that attracts on each their residence and extra-familial cultures. On the subject of meals, nonetheless, some third-culture children maintain quick to custom as if to protect part of their ethnic identities. My mother emigrated from South Korea in 1967, bringing a set of flavors, strategies and recipes that might fossilize from that second. It was a problem to seek out components to prepare dinner conventional Korean meals in metro Detroit then, however she pulled it off brilliantly, managing to cross on to my sister and me her sohn mat — Korean for style of the arms, normally conferred from mom to youngster.

After I traveled to Korea with my mother virtually 50 years after she’d emigrated, we had been each upset to seek out that a lot of the meals had, in our minds, turn out to be Americanized — changing into milder and lighter than what we thought Korean meals must be. Once we inquired about the place to seek out the extra pungent, conventional dishes we craved, locals laughed at us. “You’re so old school!” they mentioned. “Nobody in Korea eats that manner anymore.”

That was an overstatement, to make sure, nevertheless it made us notice one thing: Our palates had been caught in 1967 Seoul, whereas the delicacies in Korea had naturally advanced. Bulgogi, in truth, advanced tremendously from its origins as a skewered meat through the Goguryeo period (37 B.C. to A.D. 668). The literal translation of bulgogi, “fireplace meat,” looks like a misnomer now, as nowadays bulgogi is commonly cooked in a pan and is usually even simmered in a broth (perfect for drizzling over rice).

Recognizing gastronomical evolution as greater than a theoretical idea helped me turn out to be extra open to modern Korean delicacies, each in Korea and within the diaspora, letting me reframe my id as a biracial Korean American with out requiring that I stay a staunch meals traditionalist. I’ll by no means come round to placing American cheese in my kimbap (as many Koreans now do), however I now not equate conventional with genuine. The bulgogi meatballs beneath are an ideal instance of third-culture cooking, which describes a lot of the very best American cooking at present. They advanced from the standard recipe I used to prepare dinner with my mother to fast and enjoyable meatballs I developed with my very own children.

Like all conventional bulgogi, it begins with the basic Korean barbecue marinade components: soy sauce, sugar and garlic. Mirin (candy rice wine) is commonly added to assist tenderize the meat, although grated onion or Asian pear additionally does the trick. That mentioned, one of many advantages of utilizing floor beef as an alternative of the thinly sliced steak is that it doesn’t require a tenderizer or marinating time. You simply combine the components collectively, roll into balls and pop them underneath the broiler. The ensuing meatballs might be served some ways: as handed hors d’oeuvres; for dinner with rice or noodles and sautéed greens or sliced cucumbers; or our favourite manner, with ssambap — Korean lettuce wraps with rice. Rewarmed leftovers (if solely!) on prime of somewhat scoop of rice make for a terrific thermos lunch the subsequent day.

Conventional or not, any manner you serve these meatballs, their flavors are true bulgogi.

Storage: Refrigerate for as much as 4 days.

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  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (might substitute tamari)
  • 1/4 cup (scant 2 ounces) packed gentle or darkish brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (non-obligatory)
  • 4 to five medium cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1/3 cup panko (might substitute 10 crushed gluten-free or butter crackers, similar to Ritz)
  • 1 pound floor beef (85 p.c lean; might substitute plant-based meat options, similar to Past Meat; floor pork; or floor darkish meat of rooster or turkey)
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine collectively the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, mirin if utilizing and garlic.

Place a baking rack about 6 inches from the broiling aspect and preheat the broiler.

Add half of the soy sauce marinade to a big bowl; reserve the rest for the dipping sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on prime and stir to mix. Add the meat and scallions, and gently combine all of it collectively till completely mixed, being cautious to not overwork the combination.

Use a scant 1-tablespoon measure to scoop the combination and gently roll into meatballs, inserting them on a big, rimmed baking sheet. Preserve the meatballs small — no multiple inch in diameter — so that they prepare dinner rapidly.

Switch the baking sheet to the oven and broil for about 5 minutes, or till the meatballs are evenly browned and the inner temperature registers 160 levels on an instant-read thermometer. (To examine with out a thermometer, fastidiously seize a meatball with tongs and break it: If the within is uniform in coloration and texture, it’s cooked by. If it’s not, give them a pair extra minutes.) Ideally, you’ll get a pleasant char on the highest with out overcooking them.

Whereas the meatballs are broiling, pour the remaining marinade right into a small saucepan and set over medium-high warmth. In a small bowl, whisk collectively the water and the cornstarch to type a slurry, then whisk it into the marinade. Deliver to a boil, stirring always, then take away from the warmth and put aside.

To serve: If serving as hors d’oeuvres, stick a toothpick into every meatball and prepare them on a serving platter with the dipping sauce on the aspect — or drizzle the sauce over the meatballs, with toothpicks on the aspect. If serving as a major course, prepare the meatballs on a platter with the sauce on the aspect or drizzled over and serve, family-style, with rice and sautéed spinach or bok choy, or with sliced cucumbers and crispy lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Per serving (4 meatballs), based mostly on 10

Energy: 159; Complete Fats: 10 g; Saturated Fats: 3 g; Ldl cholesterol: 31 mg; Sodium: 572 mg; Carbohydrates: 8 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 10 g

This evaluation is an estimate based mostly on obtainable components and this preparation. It shouldn’t substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s recommendation.

From writing professor and cookbook writer Cammie Kim Lin, tailored from “(Serious) New Cook” by Leah Su Quiroga and Cammie Kim Lin (Rizzoli New York, 2022).

Examined by Olga Massov; e mail inquiries to [email protected].

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