Originally written as part of the World Cup 2014 cooking project.
Arguably the most successful football team in Asia, the Korean Republic (or South Korea) has now made it 8 consecutive World Cup appearances. Their most notable heroics was in 2002 when they went on an amazing run only coming short in the semi-finals to a single goal from Germany’s Michael Ballack. I will never forget the sea of red that supported the team during that World Cup, which was co-hosted by Japan and Korea, especially in that quarter-final in which they knocked out the fancied Spain on penalties. This time round they are ranked 2nd lowest in the tournament, but this ranking does hide the fact that they can be a very dangerous team. Look out for the emerging players Son Heungmin and Koo Jacheol, and their captain Bolton Wanderers’ Lee Chungyong.
Just as a note, I have always loved reading out the Korean team, ever since having a Panini sticker book during the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico; it’s like reading poetry as each line flows in to the next, more often than not in rhyme.
Before I was heavily in to food and cooking I lived in London, in the midst of a South Korean community, and shamefully I have to say I never ate out once at a Korean restaurant. But in recent years I have been enlightened and adore it as one of my favourite Asian cuisines. I wanted to make some Kimchi to go with this dish but alas time has determined otherwise; although, I do have some fermenting right now. Kimchi, for those unaware, is to Koreans what Messi is to scoring goals – it’s a love affair. In fact Kimichi can almost be classed as a food group itself, it being common to serve it with breakfast, lunch and dinner. In summary, it is made of fermented cabbage seasoned with other ingredients, such as radishes and carrots. It’s a must to try it.
So, the World Cup dish for the Korean republic? I just happened to be eating in a Korean restaurant the other day and straight away I was inspired to make this dish, bulgogi. The tender beef marinated in salty and sweet fruity flavours and then sizzling in a cast iron dish was magic and I thought that is just what the World Cup is asking for. I have served it in a lettuce leaf and garnished it with toasted pine nuts and white sesame seeds, and a garlic chilli sauce.
Bulgogi in Lettuce Leaf - Korea RepublicPrint
- ■ 1 medium nashi pear | Roughly chopped.
- ■ 1 brown onion | Roughly chopped.
- ■ 500g trimmed Scotch beef fillet | Sliced thinly in to strips.
- ■ 165g light soy sauce |
- ■ 35g water |
- ■ 2 cloves garlic | Crushed.
- ■ 1 tbsp. sesame oil |
- ■ 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil | Or non-flavoured oil like groundnut.
- ■ 4 spring onions | Cut into angled 1 cm pieces.
- ■ ½ brown onion | Thinly sliced.
- ■ 20g white sesame seeds |
- ■ 40g pine nuts |
- ■ 4 large cos lettuce leaves | Soak in ice cold water for 10 minutes to crisp them.
- Chilli sauce or Kimchi as an accompaniment.
For the marinade: In a food processor blend the Nashi pear and the roughly chopped onion until puréed. To a bowl add the Scotch fillet, light soy sauce, water, garlic, sesame oil, and the onion and pear purée. Leave the fillet to marinate for an hour in the fridge.
Heat a griddle pan over medium heat until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and then the Scotch fillet with a little marinade. Stir fry for a minute and then add the sliced onion and spring onions. Add more marinade if it gets a little dry. Cook for another 3-4 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat.
Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the pine nuts and toss and toast until they attain a little colour. Remove from the pan and then add the sesame seeds. Again, toss and toast until they gain colour and remove from the pan.
To serve, place a lettuce leaf on a plate, fill with the beef and sprinkle over some pine nuts and sesame seeds. Serve with chilli sauce or Kimchi.