Monday, June 15, 2009

Korean Spicy Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul and Kong Namul)

On the day I went home with a pork loin roast, I had no idea what to do with it. Normally I wouldn't pick up such a big hunk of pig, and I wasn't drunk or anything like that, but sometimes, its nice pink roundness can be enticing.

the roast cut in half, to fit on the cutting board

I had done straight pork roasts before, but it always seemed like we end up with more meat than when we started. It didn't matter what kind of flavours I bathe the roast in and baste on it -- it really was all over except for the leftovers.

Maybe there is something to the Confucian dictum that all food must be served to the table already bite-sized. Supposedly, eating smaller pieces of food promotes geniality and civility among people, them not needing to brandish knives and other sharp implements to cut up food.

Sliced Pork

I asked TS to slice the roast into thin slices and seeing the meat fanned out beautifully like that made me think of spicy pork bulgogi.

At first, I only had half of the roast cut into slices. But they looked so pretty that I asked TS to slice up the rest of it.

Funny story. Mama came around while I was slicing the pork and said something to the effect of, "Oh, they're so pretty. I like!"

I guess we are the type of people who find things like this attractive. JS was correct about the pork's enticing "nice pink roundness"!

We ended up with seven pounds of sliced pork.

The Marinade

I proceeded to cut up some green onions, onions, garlic, apple for my marinade. These will go with soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, some apple cider vinegar, and Korean red pepper paste.
Seeing the blender already out, I made a mistake of grabbing it instead of the food processor so my marinade was smoother than I had hoped. I added Korean red pepper flakes, as well as carrots and more green onions and onions to the pork after adding it my marinade.

The pork slices were marinated overnight in the fridge.


bulgogi on top; gatecrashing Philippine pork "BBQ" on the bottom

On the day we were supposed to have our spicy pork bulgogi Korean barbecue, as you can see, some Philippine pork barbecue skewers gatecrashed the party!

The Gatecrashers

Somebody in our family threw a semi-hissy fit because of a request for Philippine pork barbecue skewers being unheeded for more than a week now.

To remedy the situation, we had to buy more meat, buy an electric slicer(!), then fast-tracked the whole thing to make the Philippine pork barbecue skewers in time for dinner.
Grilled Version

It was just as well, because I needed to finetune my spicy pork bulgogi a tad. I mean, the whole thing was okay but not as spicy as I would have liked. Also, the pork loin was a bit too lean for my taste. Pork shoulder would have been my preferred cut of meat for this one. I lacked the proper tools and implements to grill my spicy pork bulgogi: some of the pieces kept falling through the grates.

Our grilled version seemed less "saucy" than other bulgogi I've seen.

Pan-fried Version

And of course, everybody just kept going for the Philippine pork barbecue skewers!

I couldn't focus on the bulgogi because people were demanding more and more skewers. I finally decided to just char some of the pieces on the grill and have TS pan-fry the rest of the bulgogi so I can concentrate on the skewers.

The pan-fried version seemed "saucier", perhaps since the juices collected in the pan instead of falling through the grates of the grill.

So please consider the recipe below Spicy Pork Bulgogi Version 1, which is not bad at all (it was quite good), and it will be perfected sometime in the near future.

Muu Namul

We couldn't very well have Korean food without at least a couple of banchan. Since we had daikon in the fridge, we decided to make use of it.

I actually wanted thin julienne of daikon radish, but I was too lazy to slice it up by hand, so I decided to use the grater attachment in the food processor.


As you can see, these really did look like grated radish, not at all like nice thin strips.

A lesson for the kiddies: always use the right tool for the job, even if the right tool is a knife and your own hard work!

I simply cooked the julienned grated radish with some garlic (see the big hunk of grated garlic), sesame oil, salt & pepper, a touch of sugar (for balance), and a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds. I garnished with some Korean red pepper flakes.

Kong Namul

This dish has turned out to be a family favorite and we've made it numerous times. (Previous blog post about kongnamul here.)

The Meal

We ate our pork bulgogi with a bit of plain rice, wrapped with a piece of romaine lettuce. It was accompanied by muu namul and kong namul.

I think it would be more correct to say that we ate our pork bulgogi with a few skewers of Philippine pork barbecue on the side. ;)

The recipe below reflects my desire to have the pork bulgogi more juicy and more spicy. I've also scaled down the recipe to reflect a smaller portion of pork.

eatingclub vancouver Korean
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Korean Soybean Sprouts Pancake (Kongnamul Jeon)
Korean Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul, Kong Namul)
Korean Roast Salmon
Korean Fried Chicken
Korean Sweet Potatoes with Yangnyeom Sauce
Japchae / Jap Chae (Korean Glass Noodles with Vegetables)
Brown Rice Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl)
Korean Oxtail Soup (Gom Tang)

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Blazing Hot WokWe're submitting this to Regional Recipes, a blogging event created by Blazing Hot Wok that celebrates food from all over the world.

The region for this edition is Korea. The round-up will be hosted by Wandering Chopsticks and will be posted around June 20.

Regional Recipes information

Our Regional Recipes posts:
Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)
Simmered Saba Mackerel with Daikon Radish (Saba Oroshi-ni)
Thai Fried Chicken
Roast Pork Belly with Puy Lentils
Beef "Ribbon" Kebab (Pasanda Kabab) with Cilantro Chutney
Canadian Onion Soup with Oka Cheese
Börek with Beef Filling
Korean Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul, Kong Namul)
Lobster Congee from a Lobster Feast
Pork Jowl (Pork Cheeks) with Brown Sugar Rub
Beef Salpicao
Cuban Arroz con Salchichas (Yellow Rice with Vienna Sausages)
Cuban Pastelitos de Guayaba y Queso (Guava and Cheese Pastries)
Vietnamese Spring Roll (Cha Gio)
Grilled Fish Fillet on Oregano
Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)

Spicy Pork Bulgogi, v. 1
Serves 8 t0 10

2-3 pounds pork shoulder, sliced thinly

6 stalks green onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 apple (or Asian pear), grated
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp Korean red pepper paste
3 tbsp Korean pepper flakes (or more, depending on how spicy you like)

1 medium onion
3 stalks green onions
1 carrot

Mix marinade ingredients together and pour over slices of pork. Let sit in fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Optional ingredients:
If desired, cut up one onion into slices, 3 stalks of green onions, one carrot into strips to mix in with the pork. You can cook these with the pork on the grill for extra flavour and fragrance.

Grill or pan-fry pork slices until done. Serve with plain white rice and lettuce leaves.

Muu Namul (Korean Radish)
Serves 8 to 10, as a side dish

1 medium-large daikon radish
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 garlic cloves, grated/minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
salt and pepper

Cut daikon into thin slices, or into matchstick-sized sticks.

Heat sesame oil in pan. Stir-fru radish pieces over medium heat until softened slightly. Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook for another minute. Serve at room temperature as a side dish in a Korean meal.


  1. Yay gochujang! Looks yummy. The family is really spoiled-- I don't know many people who'd procure an electric meat slicer on the fly! :D

  2. This looks wonderful.... There's a dish at my favorite Korean restaurant that I used to order all the time, I could never find the recipe. Your dish LOOKS almost the same - I'll try it!

  3. For me the banchan are what make the meal. I can't imagine you could have sliced that pork so perfectly if you had been drunk....

  4. Love the first shot! Looks sooo delicious. The pan-fried version looks better actually, like you said, saucier =)

  5. Looks wonderful!

    Did you really get a meat slicer?!

  6. Oh, this looks so good....... I could eat a plateful at this moment. Can you believe that I have never eaten Korean food, so missing out.

  7. wow, you slice the meat so thinly and uniformly. This is my fave korean meat dish and you girls make it so well :)

  8. Manggy:
    OMG -- you said it! Spoiled is right! Haha. Although, that slicer is coming in handy... We just sliced some beef for tapa. =)

    Fearless Kitchen:
    We need to tinker a bit with this still, I think. Hope it works for you!

    maybelle's mom:
    Yeah, those soybean sprouts are a favorite, so we had to at least have that! At least.


    Yeah, the panfried version looks so much "juicier". We'll have to tinker with this dish and hopefully come up with something even better. =)

    Thank you! And yes, we actually did get an electric slicer. But, it's one of those home ones, not a commercial one. Hehe.

    Oh, I actually quite love Korean food, the little that I know of it. Hope you get to try some soon. =)

    Actually, I thought I was doing a pretty good job... but then when I saw them after cooking, they weren't as thin as I thought they were! I guess the electric slicer will come in handy in future version of bulgogi! =D

  9. That bulgogi looks really tasty! I always enjoy eating bulgogi in lettuce wraps.

  10. Kevin:
    We didn't learn about the wrapping in lettuce until one time in a Korean restaurant in LA.

  11. I can't believe you sliced all that pork! That is amazing. I thought the radish was rice at first, it's so finely grated. What a great meal.

  12. for sure i will try this on 4th of july,and your pork barbecue is amazing too, love that korean red paste.i had it first when we fly korean airlines, their rice meal served in a bowl and ask for extra paste to take home,lol.

  13. Mareza:
    We hope it turns out great for you!


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