A luau, and some Bulgogi you don’t have to go to a restaurant to get!

So, we went to a luau last night.  We had a great time!  The luau was at the Naval Air Station Pensacola Chief Petty Officers Mess right on the beach.  It was beautiful!



The lighthouse was fabulous with the clouds in the background.  It was even more fabulous when it was all lit up!



They even cooked the whole pig underground all day, all wrapped up in banana leaves.  It smelled AMAZING when they were digging it up!




I had a plate full of pork and some grilled chicken and there was even lumpia and pancit!  Heaven!  I definitely wanted to go back for more and seriously considered swiping the lumpia off the plates of my neighbors. But, I didn’t. 🙂


So, anyway, I love summer.  Our grill is usually fired up pretty much every night.  We definitely have our favorites and this is one of them! If you don’t know what Bulgogi is, it is simply seriously awesome Korean barbecue.  I have had the pleasure of eating authentic, homemade Bulgogi and this recipe is the real deal.  I found the recipe in, of all places, The Barbecue Bible which, by the way, is one of the best places to find awesome grilling recipes.

 I have made this quite a few times and it is absolutely fabulous and well worth the time and effort and definitely worth sharing.  The time and effort isn’t great – there is some chopping – but there is a small marinating time requirement (1 to 2 hours) so be prepared for that.  Grilling takes such little time you’ll wonder if you were actually standing in front of your grill!  Seriously, this is when a gas grill is perfect because you heat it up, cook, and turn the grill off.  I love charcoal grilling but measuring coals, lighting, waiting for the coals to ash over all for 5 minutes of grilling time seems a little over the top and slightly wasteful to me.  If you have no choice but charcoal, I suggest you find additional things to grill – like pineapple for dessert or something.  Make use of all those coals!

The best part about Bulgogi is the eating part.  You wrap up the meat in lettuce, dip in sauce and nosh away.  So simple, so sweet, so freakin’ GOOD!  As I said before, I have made it a few times and not just for us – I’ve made it for company (read: parents and really excellent friends) and have had RAVE reviews.  It really is that delicious.  I hope you take the time to try it out.  Enough of my typing, I’m drooling and need to get some Bulgogi into my tummy. Om nom nom!

Annyŏngki kaseyo!  That means goodbye in Korean.  It’s pronounced (roughly) ahn-nyong-key  kah-say-yo (kah as if you were from Boston and you needed to pahk the cah in the garahge).


Korean Sesame-Grilled Beef (aka Bulgogi)
Serves 6

For the beef and marinade:
2 pounds beef tenderloin tips, or boneless sirloin
½ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sake, rice wine, or dry sherry
2 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and minced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
Garlic Kebabs, optional but I highly recommend them (recipe follows)
Asian pear dipping sauce (recipe follows)
1 head romaine lettuce, separated into leaves, rinsed, and spun dry

1.  If using tenderloin tips, butterfly them to obtain broad flat pieces of meat; each should be about 4 inches long and wide and ¼ inch thick.  If using the sirloin, cut it across the grain into ¼-inch slices.  Whichever cut you use, pound the slices between two sheets of plastic wrap with the side of a cleaver or with a rolling pin to flatten them to a thickness of 1/8 inch.  Place the meat in a large nonreactive baking dish and set aside while you prepare the marinade.

2.  Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the mixture over the meat in the baking dish and toss thoroughly to coat.  Cover and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 1 to 2 hours.

3.  Preheat the grill to high.

4.  When ready to cook, oil the grill grate.  Add the garlic kebabs (if using) to the hot grate and grill for 4 to 5 minutes.  Then, arrange the pieces of meat on the grate and grill, turning with tongs, until nicely browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side.  Turn the garlic kebabs as the meat cooks.  Transfer the meat to a platter when it is done and unwrap the garlic.

5.  Pour the dipping sauce into 6 small bowls, one for each diner.  To eat, take a piece of meat and a grilled garlic clove and wrap them in a lettuce leaf.  Dip the leaf in the dipping sauce and eat at once.

Garlic Kebabs

garlic kebabs

2 to 3 heads garlic (for 24 large cloves)
1 tablespoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat the grill to high.

2.  Break the heads of garlic into cloves.  Peel each clove.  Skewer the garlic cloves crosswise on toothpicks, 3 cloves to a toothpick.  Brush the cloves with sesame oil and season with salt and pepper.  Loosely wrap each kebab in aluminum foil.

3.  When ready to cook, arrange the packets on the hot grate and grill the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes per side, turning with tongs to ensure even cooking.  Remove the foil the last few minutes to allow the garlic to brown lightly.

Asian pear Dipping Sauce

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sake or dry sherry
¼ cup sugar
1 small Asian pear, peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed and the sugar is dissolved.  Divide the sauce among as many small bowls as there are people, so each person has his own for dipping, and serve immediately.

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