Beef and mushroom bulgogi |

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Beef and Mushroom Bulgogi

Like many events at Marriott Hotel Manila, the Korean Food Festival opened last week with some pomp and circumstance. There to welcome the guests were four Korean chefs—Lee Yong Teak, Lee Young Chul, Byung Eok An and Jeun Gi Nyeo, who flew in just for the occasion from Elysian Gangchon, one of the largest resorts in Seoul.

A tour of the kitchen and a cooking demonstration gave the guests a glimpse into the intricacies of Korean cooking—the spices, the techniques and the vibrant flavors that characterize its cuisine. To add to the drama, ladies in colorful billowy skirts performed ritual dances, their slow, graceful movements keeping pace with the hypnotic sound of traditional Korean music.

With the ample use of garlic, peppers, onions and chilies, Korean dishes are never dull. Their spiciness is often tempered by condiments like rice wine and sugar and some fresh greens, thus creating a complexity of flavors.

At Marriott Café, the sumptuous spread included not just the more familiar dishes such as kimchi (pickled cabbage) and kalbi jim (beef rib stew) but also bibimbap (rice bowl with beef, seafood and vegetables), pa jeon (seafood and spring onion pancake), namul (seasoned vegetables dish) and sundubu jiigae (soft tofu stew).

Held in partnership with the Korean Cultural Center, the Korean Food Festival is ongoing at Marriott Café until July 31.

Here’s a recipe for beef and mushroom bulgogi, one of the dishes served during the opening of the festival.

Beef and Mushroom Bulgogi

1 apple
1 pear
1 onion
500 g (½ k) thinly sliced beef sirloin (or use sukiyaki-cut beef)
3-4 oyster mushrooms
3-4 shiitake mushrooms
1 red bell pepper
2 stems leeks

For the marinade:
¼ c sugar
½ c soy sauce
¼ c mirin or sweet rice wine
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds

For cooking:
Cooking oil for brushing on the grill or nonstick cooking spray

Grate the apple, pear and onion finely, then combine them in a large bowl. Soak the beef in the mixture for 15-20 minutes.

Cut the oyster and shiitake mushrooms and red pepper vertically into thin slices and the leeks into two-inch slices. Set aside.

Mix together all the marinade ingredients. Marinate the beef in the mixture for an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

When ready to cook, brush a grilling pan with cooking oil, or spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Heat the pan, then add the beef and cook for two to three minutes, turning frequently. Transfer the beef to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Brush the grilling pan again with oil, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook the mushrooms, red pepper and leeks until tender, then spoon them on top of the beef. Serve with rice or vermicelli noodles.

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