Bulgogi or Korean Beef Recipe

When I worked at Temple University, I discovered the line of food trucks outside on campus.  Some were better than others, and since I have a strong preference for Ethnic Cuisines, I hit the one Korean Food truck heavily.

She had this beef dish that I particularly liked.   It was thin slices of beef with a sweet and savory spicy sauce, that had a mild bite to it.  All of this was served on rice. 

When I left Temple, I left that dish behind. 

Recently the local Pei Wei had a dish they called “Korean Beef” that was close.  Their version was much more “hot” and that is the general reputation of Korean food.  I’m assuming that may have been more “accurate”, but I am not really sure.  Then, after I having had it for about six months, the dish went away.

“Pop!”  all gone.  I had to find something else there.

But I never forgot about my food truck and the wonderful Korean Beef.

One day recently I got curious and found out that this is called Bulgogi and is one of those “national dishes” that are served all over Seoul and the rest of Korea.

Now there are a few tricks to this. 

First it is VERY easy to make.  The process is to marinade the beef overnight in the sauce, then cook it in the skillet.  We didn’t.  Since we used extra lean ground beef, we just poured the sauce over the meat at the end after draining and in doing so made the whole meal in one skillet in 15 minutes total.  It took longer to write this blog posting than it did to make this dish with rice and ground beef.

Second, the sauce would work well on any other meat I can think of, as well as a vegetarian meat substitute like “Crumbles” or Tofu. 

Third, Just enjoy it.  If you want hot, add extra pepper.  This recipe was warm and savory with just enough pepper that it didn’t linger long afterwords.

Fourth, you can use the 95% extra lean ground beef if you are trying to keep your diet low fat.  We did this and did not have to add any binders and ended up with a very healthy meal as a result.

Like I said, it’s easy!  We will be having this again and again. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or dried ginger powder
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or other sliced or ground meat
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Cooked rice, cellophane noodles, or other noodles as needed for serving
  • Sesame Seeds, mushrooms, hot sauces, or Kimchi for seasoning as needed for serving

Preparation:

  • To make marinade, mix together the Brown Sugar, Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Red Pepper Flakes, and Ginger.
  • For ground meats, 
    • brown the meat in the skillet with the garlic, green onions, and vegetable oil, draining the excess fat at the end, 
    • then add the marinade to the skillet and reduce to a sauce.
  • For other “intact” meats, you will marinade the meat in the mix overnight.
    • Remove the meat from the marinade setting the marinade aside.
    • Brown the meat in skillet fully with the vegetable oil, garlic, and green onions.
    • Remove excess fat from the skillet and add back in the marinade.
    • Simmer the marinade and meat together until the marinade cooks down into a sauce.

Serve with rice or noodles, and any side dishes that you might like.

How I Killed My Computer. Or Not.

Maybe it’s a story of the Cobbler’s Kids having beat up shoes, or maybe it’s just a bit of a joke I played on myself far too early one morning.  If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.

I settled in at Stupid O’Clock one morning.  Had my coffee in hand.  It was a solid hour or two before sunrise.  The skies weren’t even purple yet. 

Look out the front window and all I saw were the neighbor’s party lights on their doorway glowing in the pre-dawn gloom.

They really should switch to LEDs if they’re going to keep them going all night, but as far as I am concerned, they’re pretty and I won’t say too much about that.  After all, there’s a neighbor a block away who has a permanent holiday display going.  She swaps the Easter Bunny for Santa or for firework like sparkly bits depending on the time of year, and I do appreciate it.

Especially at a quarter past five in the morning.

My own house was quiet.  The kitchen light was on after I finished with it, as it is the only light in the house.

I start up the two computers.  The windows machine is off doing tasks until I need it for graphics work later.

My older machine, by about six months, is a Dell.  Beast of a machine.  A Dell Precision M4500 if you are curious.  I think the case of it is carved out of granite since it would work as a projectile in a theatre of war.

Yes, that solid.  I got it used off lease, and paid less than a cheap tablet computer is today.  Since it’s an i7 processor, it’s going to be around for quite a while.

Ok, I like the thing.

They threw a copy of Windows 7 32 bit which had me scratching my head.  i7?  32 bit?  Nope.  I’ve run a couple different operating systems on it and I have settled on running mostly Xubuntu Linux at the moment, with Windows 7 64 bit in a dual boot, if I want to slum on Windows.

The thing is that it’s pretty stable, and great hardware – especially for the chump change I got it for.

I don’t expect problems with it at all.  Chugging along at breakneck speed, I was doing my thing.  Opening windows, consulting with friends and business contacts, and basically going through my normal morning routine.

I was in the middle of doing something specific.  Looking into a Project Management position with a local company when all the sudden…

I saw the shutdown window pop up.

Huh?

Then SNAP!  The power relay shut down.  The computer turned itself off.  The room was silent, or what passes for it in noisy South Florida.

I pressed the power button.  Whirr went the cooling fan.  Fweep went the DVD burner.  Blink went the LCD panel.

SNAP!

Uh oh.  She’s dead, Jim.

Immediately I panic.  I’m thinking, I’m down a computer, the one I depend on for all my professional correspondence.  All the data is on the servers, I don’t have to worry there.  My pictures are safe on The Chip. 

DamnDamnDamnDamn WhaddamIgonnaDo!

Delay.  I stood up and made a second mug of coffee.   I was midway through the normal morning crap, sun was now just coming up.

I figured that I would take the high road.  I got out the screwdriver.  Maybe it is a heat issue.

South Florida gets dust from the Sahara Desert.  The winds come from the East here, drop dust, as well as pick up sand from the beaches in the Bahamas and our own beaches.  The sand eventually drops out all over everything.  You have to wash the car fairly frequently to get rid of the sand and sea salt.

So the fan in the laptop?  Could that be the issue?  Get the vacuum.  “Hey Kevin, I’m running the vacuum, the Dell Died.”.

I fill him in. 

First I pop the bottom off the machine.  Professional or Business grade machines, even laptops, are designed to be repaired by us end users.   The monkeys behind the keyboards.  If you know what you’re doing, you can really upgrade the machines. 

One screw removed later, the bottom is off the machine.  Hmm, fan’s clean.  May as well run the vacuum through it.  Very little dust.  The heat sink was cool.  Can’t be a heat issue. 

I delayed more thinking about the mystery.  May as well vacuum the house.

I cleared a chihuahua worth of dog fur out from next to the emergency water in the laundry.  Crappy housekeeper that I am, there are some pockets that this 6’4″ frame doesn’t get to easily.

After telling Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) that all is well, and the vacuum is stowed, I settle back in.

One screw and the bottom is back on the laptop.

I flip the thing over and plug the power back into the back of the machine.

I hope I hope I hope this works.

Wait.  It’s not freaking glowing!  Is it that simple?

Yep.  I’m going to take a bullet for comedy. 

All that grief.  It turned out that I didn’t plug in the power brick. 

Blue light came on on the power plug and the Dell whirred back to life!

Sometimes, you get the gator.
Sometimes, the gator gets you.
Sometimes, the gator gets your shoe.

I think the the gator got my shoe on this one.

Moral of this story?  Watch what you’re doing in the morning before your coffee.  You may make yourself crazy when the laptop snaps you off!

A Man Goes To Confession

Forgive me Father for I have sinned…

“Go on” says the priest.
 “I swore the other day” says the man “I was on the golf course the other day and I hit my drive, it was looking perfect, heading dead straight. About 200 yards down my ball hit a power line crossing the fairway”

“And this is when you swore?” asked the priest.
“No Father, my ball the ricocheted off the power lines and flew off into the deep rough” continued the man.

“This must have been when you swore?” the priest exclaimed.
“No Father, not yet. As I was walking over to the rough to hit my second shot a hawk flew down from the trees, picked my ball up in his beak and proceeded to fly off with it” the man continued.

“Ahh I see” says the priest “This must have been the point where you swore”
“Nope not yet, as the bird flew over the green the ball fell from it’s mouth and landed two feet from the hole”

The priest pauses for a few seconds “You missed the putt didn’t you?”

Driving Through Red Lights

Yeah, I’ll admit it, this one is kind of a “Dad Joke” but it made me smile.

A guy is driving with a buddy.

They come up to a red light and the driver flies through it.

“What the hell are you doing?! It’s red!” says the passenger.

Driver says “it’s fine, my brother drives like this all the time.”

They keep going, another red light is up ahead.

The driver blows through this one too, “what are you doing!?” exclaims the passenger.

“Its fine my brother drives like this all the time.”

Further down the road they come up to a green light.

The driver stops.

“What are you doing, it’s green.”

The driver responds “I know, I’m just watching out for my brother!”

Peanut Brittle – or How To Turn Simple Syrup White, Then Into Gold

Never Multitask In The Kitchen.

Only do one thing at a time.

I’ve only got two hands.

Most of those things were said to me, loudly, at one time or another.

This time I was saying them to myself.

I settled down to make a snack.  The snack turned out fine, but it did spiral out of control a bit.  It ended with my making something else that was much nicer than what I planned.

I got on a tear.  After piecing together a list of things that I had to do over the weekend, I got to the evening and was thinking about it.  I had a lump of ginger in the fridge, and no plans to use it.  “It’s not getting any younger” I’m hearing from the next room.

So I set about to making that crystalline ginger.

Now that’s not really a tough thing.  I made it more difficult by trying to be slick, or to be thrifty.  I wasn’t really sure which when I did it.

I didn’t want a lot of simple syrup hanging around.  It’s when you boil water and sugar together and it’s used in many recipes.  You add equal parts, bring the mix to a rolling boil, and when it’s clear and dissolved, you take it off the heat and allow it to cool.

Easy, right?

I only had 2 ounces and a bit of Ginger when it was peeled and sliced thin.  Perfect!  I didn’t want a lot of that anyway.  I’d simply cut back on the simple syrup.

Er, well you know what I mean.

I made 1/2 the amount.  1 cup each sugar and water.

The problem is that when you make crystalline ginger, you have to boil that stuff for a good half hour plus.  Or until tender.

Or bored.  Take your pick.

I started stirring, backed the water down to a reasonable simmer and dealt with the interruptions.
Front door.
Dog.
Parrot.
My buddy in Atlanta that I was having a chat with between spurts of doing “other things”.

Around 40 minutes of my fidgeting in the kitchen later, I noticed that that nice clear mix had started to go thick and cloudy.  Like tar.  It was still white, but it was rapidly solidifying.

I hate throwing food out. That’s a rule I have.   I scooped the ginger out of the boiling sugar mix and put it on the rack to dry.  Ok, so it has a bit more sugar coating than normal.  I won’t coat it with sugar at the end and call it done.

The taste test was good, after all, how can you screw up ginger?

But what to do with that white, now re-granulated, ginger sugar?

I got to thinking.  The stuff is hot already.  Start putting butter in it.  It will make toffee.  I can make Pecan Brittle if I’m quick…

Butter is fat, fat and sugar chemically combine to make toffee, toffee plus baking soda for leavening, add Pecans…

Success.

The butter melted.  I had about 1 cup minus a little coating on the ginger to mix up.  I added a tablespoon of butter at a time.  The butter bonded with the sugar making praline.  Add more butter and up the heat back to medium.  All the water had boiled off now, I was left with butter and sugar.

By the time I was done, I had about 6 or 7 ounces of sugar with 3 tablespoons of butter added to the saucepan.  That got shiny, and started to smell like caramel.  The color was what I remembered from all that peanut brittle I have had as a child.

I reached into the cabinet and tossed a handful of pecans into the mix.  About 4 ounces.

Mixing it all together, the scent of cooking pecans wafted over me.  Rack, the McNab Superdog, became curious.

I tossed about a teaspoon of baking soda in the mix and stirred it even as it foamed and rose.

I had pecan brittle.

Pouring it on a sheet of aluminum foil next to the ginger that was now cooled, I had a big block of brown goo that would be light and crispy and taste well of nuts.

So if you are thinking about trying this, there are plenty of recipes. The first time I ever made Peanut Brittle was in Mr Bates’ 8th grade science class at Heritage Jr High School in Cherry Hill, NJ.  We used Ehrlenmeyer Flasks and beakers and I used that recipe for decades on the original paper before losing it to the ages.

The recipe is simple, and this makes a reasonable amount of brittle – so that you don’t have it sitting around.
proportions, or use espresso beans in 1/4 amount.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup Pecans/Walnuts/Peanuts or 1 ounce of roasted espresso beans that are coarsely ground.
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Process:

  • To sauce pan, add the sugar and butter. 
  • Turn on heat to medium.
  • Mix well.  
  • The butter will melt and make the mix turn into toffee.
  • If you are looking for proper Peanut Brittle texture, cook until the ingredients are smooth, shiny, and tan to brown.  You will know if it is done by dropping a small drop of the mixture into cold water and it will crack – Hard Crack stage.
  • At this point, add the nuts, and a teaspoon of Baking Soda and mix well quickly.
  • Pour the Peanut Brittle onto a sheet of aluminum foil to cool or onto a cookie sheet.
  • When room temperature, you can shatter the peanut brittle into bite sized chunks with a couple raps with a spoon or butter knife handle.

Some People Have A Memory, I Have A Blog

Going through the list of old posts on this blog, I noticed that there is a weird counter intuitive pattern.

I have commented about how I put recipes on here because I want to be able to get to them.  We have a recipe box.  It is the size of a microwave.  I mean this is more than the card file that “mom used to have”, this thing is a beast.

Now, mind you, it does serve two people with two very different cooking styles.  Every fall, for example, when it comes time to bake Fruitcakes, we dig down to the bottom of the box.  Finding the recipe, we place an order for the candied fruit, and wait.  When the fruit arrives, we make up these cakes.  They’re nothing like anything you would find in a supermarket. 

At least in a larger supermarket.  Those things are cloyingly sweet and gooey. 

Homemade fruitcakes are rich and sweet but in a savory and almost spicy way.  That was the original recipe.  Not the gloppy stuff you find at a roadside tourist trap in the south.

Trust me it’s a different world I’m talking about.

But that’s the thing.  Since it is a box, the recipe you haven’t used is always buried under the flotsam of baking.  My own recipes, pre-blog, were printed out and saved into a book.  Then, I started to “print” them to PDF files and saved them on my chip, a 128gb postage stamp sized memory chip.  I can move that between machines, and old copies of the files sit on servers now.  Since there are so many I threw up my hands and moved the best online.

So the blog serves as a mental scratchpad. 

Any task like that I tend to write up. 

Thinking that nobody really wants to read about my recipes, I would cast them off to the four winds like the milkweed seeds that I casually tossed over the fence that one day.

Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

But you see, that’s the weird thing.  The postings that I think are so much filler are the ones that the internet seems to like.  My recipe for Gold Medal Self-Rising Biscuits gets hit more than any other blog posting in the four-plus-years that I’ve been at this.

The stories about my McNab Superdog, Rack, get hit heavily too.  Apparently there really is an attraction for those feel good stories coupled with a picture of an admittedly good looking dog.

What was all this navel gazing about anyway, you ask? 

Simple.  I ran out of bagels.  I ran out of biscuits.  So I needed to make more over the weekend.  That caused a cascade of things.  Pizza Dough was made, risen, then half of it is rolled.  The remainder goes into Pretzel rolls

Serendipity is that act of finding something you wanted more than what you were looking for in the first place.  In my case, it’s Challah Bread.

In March.  Sure, it’s not traditional to have Challah in March, but Mom got it all the time and called it Jewish Egg Bread, and we loved it with peanut butter and jelly, or toasted with butter.

Buttah?

No, Mom’s accent wasn’t “Like Buttah”, but she did have a funny way of saying things.  “Jew-eesh Aig Bread” was how that came out along with her Zs that came out “D’Zs”.  I guess if you spoke only Italian until 7 you’d have an accent too, even if you did have an appreciation for proper Italian foods and sauce that you start on Saturday for Sunday’s dinner.

Don’t judge me.  I still say “Crick” for creek from time to time…

Even if I am not planning on churning butter for those biscuits, and settling for Cream Biscuits, I was going to do some serious cooking.  Since there was Char Siu Pork in the crock pot, there’s extra ginger.  Can’t waste Ginger since it is too good, so why not make Crystalline Ginger?  While that’s simmering there’s always time to make Lemon Curd since there are two Meyer Lemons in the fridge.

Recipes aside, those jokes that I feel a little guilty about posting always get hit heavily after the immediate posting.  They save me from Writer’s Block, and I haven’t had to do any during the week.  But if I ever get completely blocked, or have somewhere to go in an emergency in the morning, you’ll see one during the week.

No, I wasn’t going anywhere with this.  Other than the kitchen.  That’s what happens when you need to do some cooking and your recipe file is online.  You start finding things you forgot you knew how to do.

Now, does anyone have any good ideas of what to do with Ginger Simple Syrup?  Pancakes perhaps?

Orchid and Lizard

Late one afternoon, I took Rack, my faithful McNab superdog, out to the backyard for his pre-walk visit to the wormhole.

He went about his business.  Doing a perimeter search around the yard is important work for Rack. 

We did our dance.  My clapping hands peppering the yard with sounds of joy as Rack rounded the palm tree and over the spa, seemingly hovering in mid-air as he glided over top of it, long way around.

Then he disappeared to the other dimension where he keeps his alternate superdog family in that other galaxy on the other side of the wormhole.

The yard was silent, or as silent as South Florida ever gets.  The FEC doing an evening run on the tracks a mile off in the distance moaning as they approached then passed. 

The Neighbor’s puttering in their garden getting ready for an oncoming birthday party.  Sawing and paint testing, the air was perfumed with pine bark mulch.

Chattering a yard over with someone discussing The Farm’s Papayas and whether they were ready to be served on the table.  Fresh Papaya is a wonderful thing and if it were only one foot closer, some would be on my table as well.  None of that store bought stuff, this grows on a tree on our property line, just beyond the fence.

I settled on inspecting the irrigation lines.  The drip feeds need attention constantly.  Every single day one or another gets clogged as they dribble life giving rusty ground water into waiting roots.

Getting back to the orchid chain, I notice I am being watched.  Rack was still in his alternate universe.  This was a much smaller creature.  Descended from Dinosaurs, I spotted it.  A friendly Lizard.  Hiding in the shade under the leaf of my Phaleonopsis Orchid, I was being judged.  Threat Assessment.

I reached into my pocket, grabbed my camera, and got a picture.

The little blaggard moved.

I reset myself, took another picture.

The little rapscallion moved again.

“Annoying little creature, do sit still! I need to finish what I am on to.”

It didn’t care but I did get what I needed and let it on its own little way.  Rack had come back through the wormhole, sliding into the backyard at warp speed.  Gliding to a stop, feet widely spread out, he lay on the ground as if to say “Play! Now!  Resistance is futile”.