Nearly everyone has heard of the famous Korean barbecue dish, bulgogi.
While, in some respects, this recipe is not a faithful rendition of the Korean classic, it is definitely inspired by the traditional flavors of Asia. We’ve used flank steak, a long, flat muscle from the abdominal area of the cow. Flank steak is very flavorful, but has a tendency toward toughness. But slice it thinly across the grain and marinate it for a few hours in a tasty mixture including soy sauce, garlic and sesame and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a delicious piece of juicy, succulent grilled beef.
The Thai bird chilies don’t just turn up the heat – they also add wonderful flavor. If you don’t like it spicy, simply omit them.
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 6 Tbsp rice wine or sherry
- 4 Tbsp sesame oil
- 16 cloves garlic, chopped
- 8 green onions, thinly sliced
- 4 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 Thai bird chilies, thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 lb flank steak
- Butter or Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
First, prepare the marinade.
Combine the first nine ingredients (everything except the flank steak and lettuce) in a bowl and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Unless it’s prepared and sliced correctly, flank steak can be a little tough. Flank steak is a long, flat muscle with the muscle fibers or “grain” running the length of the steak. But if you slice flank steak thinly across the grain, you’ll be rewarded with a very flavorful cut of beef with a pleasantly firm and slightly chewy texture.
Here’s how to do it: Using a sharp knife, carefully remove any fat, tough tendons and silverskin – most is concentrated at each end of the muscle. Don’t worry about getting every little bit – just get as much as you can without tearing up the meat. Flank steak is naturally pretty lean, so you shouldn’t have too much fat to worry about anyway.
Slice & Marinate It.
Lay the knife almost flat against the surface of the meat. Slicing across the grain, cut long, thin strips of the steak, 1/4-inch or less in thickness. The thinner and wider the slices, the more surface area of the meat is exposed to the potent, flavorful marinade. Continue, carefully slicing thin, flat pieces of meat until the entire steak has been cut.
Place the sliced meat into a heavy duty zip-lock bag and pour in the marinade. Remove as much of the air from the bag as possible and seal it closed. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade evenly across and around the slices of flank steak. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or as long as 6, turning occasionally.
Prepare a very hot charcoal or wood fire. The object is to sear the meat very quickly over high heat so it will remain moist and tender. Cooking the marinated flank steak too long on an insufficiently hot grill will render it tough and dry.
When the coals are glowing hot, remove the meat from the marinade and place the strips on the grill, cooking them in batches if necessary. Do not overcrowd the grill. Cook on one side for about 2 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. When the edges begin to brown, turn each strip and cook the other side for another minute or two. As soon as each strip of meat is done, remove it from the grill to a platter. Continue cooking until all the meat is done.
Hint: Don’t discard the marinade after removing the flank steak. Instead, bring it to a quick boil over high heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Lower the heat and continue to cook until it reduces slightly. Use as a condiment for the flank steak or on burgers, as a dipping sauce for roasted chicken, or dab it on grilling seafood. Delicious!
Place a strip of grilled flank steak on a lettuce leaf. If you like it a little spicy, add a dash of ssamjang (Korean hot sauce), sriracha, or just drizzle with some of the reduced marinade. Mmmm… Incredible, isn’t it?
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