It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were supposed to make bulgogi. Together. You and I. But you had other plans. You went to the outlet mall with your “friends.” You shopped at Tory Burch and Chanel while I went shopping for london broil and kimchi. It was all I could do not to cry while chopping the onions.
Sure my 40-year old friend Randy thought you were great. You were a cute Korean exchange student from South Dakota. Who wouldn’t love you? So naive and innocent with those big, dark eyes.
You’d never been to New York you said. We were going to make bulgogi you said. It was your favorite dish you said. Was any of it true?
Because then you disappeared. Like a thief. In the night. And after losing the keys to my house!
Sure you left a note. Said you were sorry. Said you were so ashamed you’d lost the keys you had to leave. But what about my calls? My pleas? “Come back!” I cried. “I’m not mad at you. What about the bulgogi?”
But you didn’t return my calls. All you did was leave me trinkets. A plastic Korean drum on a key chain and a pair of chopsticks. What am I supposed to do with those?
But it’s okay, because I’m strong. Stronger even than kimchi. And I figured out how to make bulgogi. On my own.
I learned there are different ways to make it. You can fry it in a pan. You can barbecue it. One recipe even called for Asian pears to sweeten and tenderize the meat. But I decided to do it my own way, using oranges instead of pears. Because I could. Because I wanted to. Because it’s my bulgogi now!
That’s right. I made bulgogi. I made it without you. And it was good. And my friends liked it. And you know what? I’m going to make bulgogi again. Because it’s a great summer dish. And it’s delicious. And I know now, because of what happened between us, I can survive. I can make bulgogi on my own. And because of that, I know I’ll be okay.
Bulgogi Without the Korean Girls (Who Went to the Mall, Lost the Keys to My House, Left Me an Apology Note, Disappeared, and Refused to Answer My Calls)
1 1/2 pounds london broil, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 scallions, including green, sliced on diagonal into 1″ pieces
1 yellow onion chopped into 1″ pieces
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 head red leaf lettuce
5 cups cooked white rice
12 ounces kimchi (1/2 – 3/4 jar)
1. Whisk marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
2. When sugar has dissolved, pour marinade into large ziplock plastic bag.
3. Add beef and chopped onion to bag and, using your hands, massage marinade into beef.
4. Allow beef to refrigerate at least three hours. For more flavor, let marinade overnight.
5. When ready to prepare, preheat outdoor grill.
6. When coals are ready, remove meat from marinade and place directly on grill. Optional: brush grill with canola oil to prevent sticking.
7. Cover with top and allow meat to cook 5-10 minutes until tender and slightly charred. Use tongs to turn meat over and cook another 5-10 minutes or to desired doneness. Remove from grill.
8. While meat is cooking, wash and dry lettuce, separate individual leaves, and place on plate.
9. Place spoonful of rice on top of each leaf, top with slices of meat and a spoonful of kimchi to taste.
10. Wrap lettuce around meat, rice, and kimchi. Eat and enjoy!