Friday, January 15, 2016

Flashback Friday - A Little Bit of Korea

Why is it that Korean flavors work so well in non-Korean applications, like tacos, burritos, and sandwiches?


This post was originally published on October 5, 2011.
A Little Bit of Korea

One day last week, I lunched on something that was billed as "Korean BBQ tacos." With that description, I hoped to chomp down on some toothsome beef that was both spicy and sweet and seasoned with garlic and sesame oil. Imagine my disappointment when instead I ended up with a mouthful of pot-roast-like meat seasoned with a ton of thyme. (I hate when that happens. The thyme part. I think thyme - especially dried thyme - when used in excess, tastes like something that would be better used to clean floors.) Turns out that the person who assembled my lunch used the wrong beef and the tacos weren't supposed to taste so bizarre. Still - a huge disappointment that left me wiping my tongue in disgust.

I made up for the experience by making Korean-style food at home over the weekend. Rather than duplicating the taco idea, I made a sandwich with marinated flank steak topped with vegetables including a Korean spinach salad known as sigumchi namul (a popular banchan dish), and a spicy mayonnaise.

After a couple of bites, Mr Minx said, "this is one of those things that tastes so good, you just want to keep eating more and more." Words I looove to hear. And I gotta admit - it was damn good. The meat was garlicky, sweet, and sesame-y, just like Korean short ribs, aka kalbi. The assortment of veggies added a variety of textures, and the mayo added some heat. While I'm not a huge fan the bizarre hair-like texture of sprouts, I felt they added a nice earthy flavor to the sandwich. If you don't like them, feel free to leave them out; ditto for the pepperjack cheese.

Korean-style Flank Steak Sandwich

Flank Steak
1/2 cup light soy
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon kochukaru (Korean red chile flakes)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 bunch scallions, root end removed, chopped into 2" sections
1 1.5 lb flank steak

Place flank steak in a zip-top plastic bag and add the remaining ingredients. Marinate for at least one hour up to overnight. (The longer, the better!)

Preheat broiler and move oven rack to the highest position. Place the marinated steak and scallions on a foil-covered shallow baking pan and broil for 3-4 minutes on one side. Flip steak and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until desired doneness. (Use a digital thermometer to access internal temperature. Ideally, 130-140 is medium-rare). Allow meat to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before slicing thinly on a diagonal against the grain.

Sigumchi Namul
1/2 lb fresh spinach
1.5 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
black pepper

Blanch spinach in rapidly boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to retain the green color. When cooled, carefully squeeze out all of the water. Chop the spinach coarsely and mix with the remaining ingredients.

Spicy Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I like Kewpie)
2 teaspoons gochujang
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger

Mix together in a small bowl.

Zucchini Pickles
1 lb small zucchini, peeled and cut into coins
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
large pinch of kosher salt

Mix everything in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate a couple of hours before using.

To assemble sandwiches:
Radish sprouts
thinly sliced pepperjack cheese
baguettes or crisp-crusted hoagie rolls

Split roll horizontally. Spread both sides with mayo. Top with broiled scallions, sprouts, steak slices, cheese, spinach, and zucchini. Serve with your favorite chips. (I used Garden of Eatin' Sesame Blues, figuring the sesame accent would work well with the sesame in the sandwich.)

Makes 4-6 sandwiches, depending on how generous you are with the toppings. There will be zucchini pickles left over - refrigerate, and enjoy them within the week.

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on