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Zox Kitchen

Zox Kitchen: October 3, 2013

Korean Barbecue—

Beef And Vegetarian

This past summer, two Korean physicians contacted me to prepare a wedding feast for them. I was excited about the opportunity because it would require me to learn a new type of barbecue--Korean style. The couple loved eating their traditional style because they felt the dish was ideal when eaten outdoors in the warm weather and because it naturally made them very nostalgic. In preparing their Korean BBQ, I learned that this type of food is historically a favorite among Koreans, especially when the meat of choice is short ribs cut vertically across the rib bones. Although my impression is that virtually all people enjoy barbecue in various styles regardless of their ethnic or cultural heritage, there is something primordial about cooking on an open flame or even a gas-driven grill under the stars. My guess is that most people worldwide would reveal many lip-smacking barbecue delights.  

A brief review of barbecue types around the world reveals that Hawaiians bury their pigs and cook them for many hours. Chinese are well known for their love of Mongolian barbecue. In Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean, such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and especially Puerto Rico, lechon is a common delicacy. This consists of taking a whole pig, slicing it from the head to tail along the chest and stomach, and slow-grilling the hog as it is turned on a rod. Koreans, I have learned also enjoy barbecue with pork and chicken. And my own experience is that barbecue can be enjoyed on the grill with or without meat. For example, antipasti is an Italian favorite when grilling vegetables of all kinds  such as peppers, zucchini, pumpkin and other squash, or  onions, carrots, shallots, asparagus and artichokes as well. Why not try one or more of these delicious seasonal vegetables in a Korean barbecue? Today I have included both types of meals—meat and vegetables--in a recipe that continues to satisfy friends and family alike in weekday meals or for special occasions.

(Serves 5-6)

Ingredients

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup water

1 12-ounce can of tomato puree 

3 tablespoons white vinegar

Juice of one lemon

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup grated pineapple

1 tsp black pepper

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4 cup minced garlic

1/2 large onion, diced

4 pounds Korean-style beef short ribs cut 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick across the bones (Your butcher can do this for you.)

Or 5 zucchini cut on the bias 2 inches thick with 4 red peppers cut 2 inches wide.

Directions

Pour the tomato puree, soy sauce, water, and vinegar into a large, non-metallic bowl. Whisk in brown sugar, pineapple, black pepper, sesame oil, garlic, and onion until the brown sugar has dissolved. Submerge the ribs or the vegetables or both in this marinade, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight for the ribs or 5-6 hours for the zucchini and red peppers.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat. When ready to grill, remove the marinade from the ribs or vegetables merely using the back of a knife. Grill the ribs and the vegetables 3-5 minutes per side remembering that they are thin and will cook quickly. Heat the marinade at a simmer for 20 minutes. Enhance your barbecue with sides of brown rice and bulgur wheat tossed with parsley, along with sautéed spinach with a tbsp of light soy and the juice of ½ lemon. These dishes will make terrific partners for your Korean barbecue. This is a meal fit for a hungry group. Mangia!