Where we live is brilliant for food shopping. There are independent grocers, butchers, fishmongers, middle eastern and Asian shops; all much cheaper than the Waitrose, Morrisons, and even the Lidl within walking distance. Unexpectedly run out of wonton wrappers? Hankering for quince? Not a problem.
It’s such a good place for home cooking that until last summer, i had never eaten at a local restaurant, or ordered a takeaway.
But then there was Dotori. Ah, Dotori. Tiny, imperfectly laid out provider of quality sushi and hot stone bowls of Bibimbap. I mention them in spite of myself because they are already so popular that people go in midweek, get told it’s over an hour until they will be seated, and then they do not scoff and leave, as a reasonable person would, they stand in a tiny space not built for standing in and wait for it. How do I know? We are those people. Or we were a few weeks ago when the Husband suggested going out for dinner. What a treat. Standing shoulder to groin with a lot of tall, overheated people on their smartphones, and repeatedly hissing “it would have been so easy/obvious/low-effort for you to make a reservation!” at the Husband…
So, for those nights when even a takeaway seems like too much effort, having beef bulgogi in the fridge means you can have something like Bibimbap in your bowl well within half an hour. Unlike at Dotori.
(tastes much better than it looks. the sheep pyjamas, however, are just as awesome as they photograph)
Recipe: Beef Bibimbap
Metricised and adapted from the New York Times recipe for Bulgogi Sliders. Tender slices of beef in its dark sticky juices, served with sharp cucumber kimchi over steamed rice and atopped with a fried egg whose yolk is softly broken over the whole comforting dish.
Beef Bulgogi Recipe
Make a day (or up to a week) in advance. All quantities approximate. Makes 10 greedy servings.
1kg beef brisket (or any bone less joint, normally brisket is cheapest and there’s no need to pay more, but this worked equally well with a roasting point that the good people at Waitrose had reduced to.under a pound)
1 carrot, peeled
1 onion, peeled
3 clove garlic, peeled
1 Asian (or any) pear, peeled and cored
240ml soy sauce
240ml apple juice
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp sake (or shaoxing rice wine, or cooking sherry)
2 tbsp mirin (or substitute as above)
1. Put the beef in the freezer to firm up whilst you make the marinade
2. In a non metallic bowl big enough for the beef, combine the liquid ingredients
3. Puree the carrot, onion, pear and garlic (sufficient quantity to make it worth using the food processor, I think, but finely chop by hand on a board big enough for the beef if you prefer) and add to liquid
4. Slice the beef as thinly as possible against the grain. The sharper the knife, the easier it is
5. Add beef to other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate covered for at least 6 hours.
1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dried chili flakes
60 ml mirin or substitute as above
60 ml light vinegar, ideally rice or white wine
To put it all together:
1. In a nonreactive bowl, mix the cucumber slices thoroughly with the salt until they are completely covered. Leave to stand. Take the beef out of the fridge.
2. Wash 60g rice per person in a microwaveable container with a lid, and cover a few fingers deep with just-boiled water from the kettle. Microwave on full power for 18 minutes.
3. Relax for 10 minutes or so, maybe take the opportunity to be nice to the Husband since this time it’s not his fault you’re hungry.
4. When the microwave sounds and the rice is cooked, leave it to stand. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a wok over a high flame; when it is shimmering add one palm-sized scoop of beef per person – in batches if for more than three so as not to crowd the pan
5. Whilst the beef is cooking through (should only take a few minutes, stirring occasionally), add the other ingredients to the cucumber kimchi and mix well. As soon as the beef is ready, scoop it out into the bowls and add a soft mound of rice to each.
6. Add more oil to the wok if required, and break in one egg for each person, lowering the flame to medium. Let the edges of the eggs bubble up, and when the whites are set, lift each egg onto a bowl of rice and bulgogi, taking care not to break the yolks.
7. Serve with cucumber kimchi and sriacha chili sauce at the table.
For a weekend lunch we had the bulgogi and kimchi with mayonnaise and chili sauce in soft white rolls, more in line with the New York Times recipe, but served this bibimbap version as a quick weeknight dinner for two, an impromptu kitchen supper with a friend whose wife is in Australia – and, most significantly, for lunch with my mother. She really likes Dotori. But she said our version was “very passable”! I could not be more gratified if she had actually praised it…since that would never happen. Although, she did ask for this recipe. Hi Mummy!