Sunday, October 28, 2012

Korean Beef and Kimchi Shish Kebab

These-were-fantastic. Ever shish'ed your kimchi to grill? It's brilliant. Grilled kimchi is great; the browning adds a nice dimension to the kimchi flavors, and it works great skewered along with other ingredients for your shish kebab (I still want to type kabob, though it seems spelling consensus has moved since my childhood).

Also shish'ed in the pic are Korean style marinated beef and red bell peppers. I was told they were a hit at the barbeque!

The three different flavors played very well together, in my opinion--the savory beef, spicy/sour kimchi, and sweet bell peppers.

Long marination (ended up being 20 hours for the beef this time, since I'd prepped them the evening before) leads to more tender meat. However, you don't actually need kiwi or Asian pear purée--both popular options in kalbi recipes--to tenderize your beef here. As Harold McGee notes (in On Food and Cooking), the enzymes in these fruits penetrate into meat very slowly, so that most of the action only happens on the surface, leading to a mealy surface texture (if you're up for it, he suggests injecting into the meat if you want better tenderizer distribution). So with a long marinating time, you can probably leave your fruit purée out of the equation; the salt in the soy sauce and gochujang will do its job.

Here's my recipe:

Korean Beef and Kimchi Shish Kebab

1 lb beef sirloin steak (or other grilling cut), 1-inch-cubed

1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 TBS rice wine
1 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS honey
1 heaping TBS gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ground perilla seeds [optional]
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS ginger, minced
1-2 green onions, finely chopped

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares
1.5-2 cups kimchi

bamboo or metal skewers (flat ones are more stable and easier to flip, whereas round ones may just turn independent of the food)
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a large sealable container or ziplock bag and hand-mix in the beef cubes to ensure all meat surfaces are exposed. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight; basically, the longer the better.
  2. Popular wisdom has it that before preparing skewers, one should soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes to avoid burning and splintering skewers. Some experts note that bamboo skewers will burn and split regardless when cooking over high heat, though.
  3. Alternating bell pepper, beef, and kimchi, thread the food onto the skewers. Bunch up several layers of (cabbage) kimchi together for bite sizes. With larger leaves, fold them up before skewering so they stay in a “package”.
  4. Grill over high heat until meat is done, about 4 minutes per side (~8 minutes total). Alternatively, if you don’t have a grill, you can trim your bamboo skewers to cook the kebabs in a skillet, or broil or bake them in an oven.

Wonk-note: The perilla seeds weren't too apparent in the flavor of the beef. I think maybe their flavor comes out better in long simmering. Generally they're used for spicy Korean stews and soups.


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