December 1997


New Malden, London 3 December 1997 Having survived and greatly enjoyed -- as well as over-feasted -- a great family Thanksgiving celebrated this year with my brother Dave -- over from Lexington, Virginia together with his wife Joan, and our nieces and nephew Emma, Claire and Miles -- as well as my Dad from Rochester, December has started brightly.
I traveled up to London by train yesterday to meet Derek Cooper, the presenter of BBC 4's Food Programme, whom I have long admired, and to take part in a broadcast on Korean food for the show. We met at Jie's Café (74 Burlington Road) in New Malden, which has become the centre of the Korean community in London. There are not only Korean restaurants here, but also Korean groceries as well as a number of other businesses serving the Korean community, which numbers an estimated 50,000 or so. Jie's is an informal, family place that should be visited, wholly authentic, mainly patronised by Koreans, and serving superb foods. We enjoyed before recording a splendid feast consisting of pajon (spring onion pancake), two types of kimchi, a variety of fresh, crunchy namuls or salads dressed in soy and sesame, sizzling pork in chilli-tinted kochujang, mandu dumplings, fish and tofu hotpot, and much else.

Also taking part in the proceedings were So-Hee Lee, a publisher of a Korean language newspaper, and Ron Grierson, who is endeavouring to import and sell Korean foods in England, not an easy task I fear. Derek is as charming and personable in person as he is on the radio and a true professional who made the interview seem but an enjoyable and informal chat. It was his first taste of Korean food, and I'm sure he greatly enjoyed it.
This most enjoyable day out provides me with the opportunity to share a recipe for one of my all-time favourite foods, bulgogi, also known as Korean barbequed beef as authentically it is cooked over hot coals at the table. If you are interested in learning more about Korean foods, please check out our Flavours of Korea based on our book of the same name.


Korean Barbequed Beef

Bulgogi is probably the best-known and most popular of all Korean foods. In restaurants, it is often prepared theatrically at the table on a brass or iron shield. However, cooked over a hibachi barbecue, grilled, or fried in a very hot frying frying pan, it is always delicious.

2 pounds sirloin steak


5 tablespoons soy sauce

3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and finely chopped

1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, crushed, and finely chopped

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

4 spring onions, sliced

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


1 lettuce

Kochujang to taste (optional -- kochujang is a Korean fermented bean and chilli paste that is a characteristic and delicious flavouring)

If necessary score the meat and pound lightly with a meat hammer to tenderize. Slice the meat into thin strips across the grain on the diagonal bias. Combine the marinade ingredients and add to the meat. Mix well with the hands, then set aside for at least 1 hour.
Prepare a charcoal fire if using. Remove the meat from the marinade and grill over the hot coals for 5-7 minutes, turning with tongs frequently. If you have a domed shield, place this over the fire, allow to heat up, then place the meat strips on the hot metal, turning as required. The meat may also be cooked under a hot grill, or fried in a very hot frying pan.
Serve with steamed white rice together with a pile of cleaned lettuce leaves and the kochujang if desired. Either eat as is, or else take a lettuce leaf, add a bit of rice, some strips of meat and a little dab of kochujang. Roll up to make packets to eat with fingers.

Wine Suggestion: Though boricha barley tea is the traditional accompaniment to Korean meals, we always enjoy this tasty barbequed meat with a forceful red, such as a St-Joseph or Crozes-Hermitage from the middle reaches of the Rhône.

Copyright © Marc Millon 2000


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