Here’s what I’ve learned from all the Korean cooks who’ve worked with us over the years: at the end of a long service, there’s nothing better than Korean barbecue. We like to go to Hahm Ji Bach in Flushing, Queens (I like Park’s in Los Angeles, too). But I wanted to learn how to make it myself. When I started asking Korean cooks about it, I learned that in every family recipe, there’s always one key ingredient in the overnight marinade for sweetening and tenderizing. Sometimes it’s Asian pears; sometimes it’s kiwi. But the most popular ingredient? The ultimate American ﬂavor: Coca-Cola.
This Korean barbecue recipe is deﬁnitely not authentic Korean bulgogi: it’s my backyard version of that sweet-salty, late-night ﬂavor. I like rib-eyes for my version, but you can use any kind of steak that you like to grill—and actually, you don’t need a grill to do it. Even if you’re using the broiler in your apartment oven, I guarantee it will come out seriously succulent and ﬂavorful. I really love to serve this with Korean kimchee, which you may wish to consider optional, and grated daikon, even though it’s not Korean at all.–Andrew Carmellini
LC In Its Own Right Note
As the author concedes, this Korean barbecue recipe is most definitely–and defiantly–not Korean bulgogi. That’s a salty, sweet, supple, traditional Korean barbecue sensation that stipulates a specific cut of meat and a slew of other marinade ingredients. This is still salty, sweet, supple, and a barbecue sensation, though of a different (yet still darn enticing) sort. It’s also a cinch of a weeknight dinner. Just 10 minutes in the a.m. to toss together the marinade and plop in the steak and dinner is almost done by the time you kick off your heels shoes when you come home. The original recipe called for monstrous 2 1/2 pound rib eyes. We adore a swell steak, but we don’t often come across steaks of that girth, so thought we’d leave the exact size—and, yes, the exact timing—up to you.
Korean Steak Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 1 H, 10 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- 1 cup soy sauce (preferably low-sodium)
- 1 cup Coca-Cola
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 scallions, minced
- 2 rib-eye steaks (bone-in or boneless), or other steak, such as sirloin
- 1. In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, Coke, sesame oil, and hoisin sauce. Add the garlic and scallions and whisk again.
- 2. To get the marinade on the steak, do whichever of these ﬂoats your boat: Place the steaks in a large deep dish, pour the marinade over them, and cover the dish tightly with tin foil or pour the marinade into a large resealable plastic bag, add the steaks, seal the bag, and shake them around till they’re coated in the marinade. Either way, the steaks should marinate in the fridge for up to 12 hours but no longer than that.
- 3. Pull the steaks out of the marinade, pile them on a plate, and let them rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Discard the marinade.
- 4. If you’re using the grill, ﬁre it up. Lay the meat right on the rack and let it grill until it gets a nice char, turning once. The timing will depend on the thickness of the steaks. You just want to get a nice char going, you don’t want to cook them through. Transfer the steaks to a cooler portion of the grill until the desired doneness, about 4 minutes for medium-rare, depending on the thickness. They’re done when the meat springs back to the touch [if you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 115°F (46°C)]. You could instead bring the steaks back inside and ﬁnish it on a rack in a roasting pan in an oven preheated to 400°F (204°C)…but why turn on the oven if there’s no need?
If you’re using a cast-iron skillet or grill pan, heat it over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Sear the steak on each side for about 4 minutes, then check the steak for doneness. If you prefer anything beyond medium-rare or if you’re dealing with steaks that are larger than a pound or so each, transfer the steak and skillet to an oven preheated to 400°F(204°C) . The exact time that the steaks require in the oven depends on the thickness of the steaks. They’re done to medium-rare when the meat springs back to the touch [if you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 115°F (46°C)].
If you’re using the broiler, turn it on. Put the steaks on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, place the baking sheet on the middle or middle-high rack, and broil the steaks to the desired doneness. The exact timing will depend on the thickness of the steaks. They’re done to medium-well when the meat springs back to the touch [if you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 115°F (46°C)].
No matter how you’re cooking the steak, transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing it.
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Korean Steak Recipe © 2011 Andrew Carmellini. Photo © 2011 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.