If you're looking for a sweet and spicy delight, you should definitely give my Korean bulgogi sandwich with spicy cucumbers a try. Throw in a thick slice of cheddar and a toasty brioche roll and you've got an easy weeknight treasure.
Korean Beef Bulgogi: What Is It, Exactly?
Bulgogi is a Korean word that means "fire meat." It's marinated meat cooked on a grill or flat surface. I first learned of Korean BBQ when I lived in South Korea many years ago. I was teaching ESL and when the school would take us out for dinner, we would go to a Korean BBQ place. It was absolutely incredible.
Korean food is the spiciest I have ever eaten. It took a long time to get used to it, but I eventually became addicted to spice. Not so much now. As I've mentioned in other posts, I am mostly a whimp when it comes to spice now. But my memory of that insanely spicy Korean food is still alive in my mind. It was some of the best food I've ever eaten. With bulgogi you're marinating thin-sliced beef (likely ribeye or sirloin) with some ginger, garlic, Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), brown sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil to name a few.
For This Bulgogi Sandwich with Spicy Cucumbers The Meat is the Key
If you live near a Korean market this is a great option for purchasing the thin-sliced meat. I am very lucky I live near a phenomenal Korean market called H-Mart. This place is food nirvana for me. It's huge, they have everything you could ever want, and their prices are totally reasonable. Naturally, they sell amazing thinly sliced ribeye specifically for making Korean BBQ. This is where I always get it.
Next option: your local grocery store most likely sells ribeye or sirloin steaks. I have asked the butcher to open a couple of steak packages and slice it thin for me out back. This is what your butcher is there for. We don't call upon them enough at our local markets. Of course, you want an experienced butcher who understands what you need. This can sometimes be challenging. But asking your butcher to thinly slice some ribeye OR sirloin is a great option.
Lastly, you can slice it thin yourself! You will get the best results if you freeze the steak for an hour or so. It won't be frozen all the way through, but it will help you get nearly paper-thin slices using your sharpest knife, of course. You want the pieces to be no more than a ¼" thick. Thinner if possible.
Watch my video to see the beautiful, thin slices I got at H-Mart. Ideally, you want your slices as thin as this - razor thin. In my opinion, ribeye is the best choice, but you can certainly use sirloin as well. Either way, if you're cutting it yourself: the key is the thinnest slices possible.
Spicy Korean Cucumbers: A Restaurant Side Dish Staple
When I Iived in South Korea, I ate out almost every meal. Restaurants were affordable and it was often more expensive to buy all the ingredients and cook at home. One of my favorite parts about eating out in South Korea were all the little side dishes that came with every meal. And when I say side dishes, I mean cute, little bowls with a heaping spoonful of... something. It could range from kimchi, some kind of noodle, pickled onions, sprouts, greens, dipping sauce and many more. My absolute favorite were the spicy Korean cucumbers. If those arrived at the table, I was immediately grabbing at them. When I decided to make a bulgogi sandwich, I knew I wanted those spicy cucumbers on top of it. So here we are. They're super easy to make too:
Love Trying New International Recipes? I Thought So:
- Mie Goreng-Indonesian Fried Noodles with Chicken
- General Tso's Chicken with a Killer Trader Joe's Hack
- Anthony Bourdain's Macau-Style Pork Chop Sandwich
- Korean Beef Bulgogi w/Basmati (if you don't want the sandwich)
- Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage
- Ralph's German Meatball Soup
- Thai Lettuce Wraps with Rotisserie Chicken
I hope you can take the time to get to know your kitchen better. Explore different foods. Cook amazing meals for yourself and your loved ones - you're all worth it. If you're still learning to cook, don't worry! You can follow along with my easy, instructional videos and we'll make it together.Print