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Chef Steve: Korean BBQ

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A blog for a bold palette
Chef Steve Alls


Don't let the title scare you. I'm not one of those chefs that believe "if it ain't spicy you ain't cookin'." But I do believe in bold flavors and I also believe that flavors have to balance in any dish you cook. They should be vibrant and soulful. But enough of that…


When I first moved to Honolulu in the 90s, my first job on the island was running a restaurant for a local restaurant company. The really great thing about this job, other than getting paid weekly, was that it was about a mile and a half from where I lived at the time. So I walked to work … a lot. And every day, like clockwork, as I passed this shopping center that was on the way, the most amazing grilled smell would emanate from this little take-out joint called Soon's Kalbi. After a few weeks of going through this torture, I decided to stop by and find out for myself what this little place was about. This was my first taste of Korean BBQ.

Now, I call it Korean BBQ, but the culinary name of this dish is called bulgogi. It is on every Korean menu. It is a soy/sesame marinated beef dish. Most of the time the beef of choice that is used is short ribs, but short ribs have bones in them that are difficult to deal with so I like to use a steak. Depending upon how much money you would like to spend there are a few great cuts of steak that you can choose from. I think the best cut of steak is a ribeye because of the marbling of the fat which gives it its wonderful flavor. Another great cut of meat for this dish is flat iron. Flat irons have a little marbling like a ribeye but the muscle fibers are coarser like a flank steak.

If you are looking for a different way to grill your steak this July 4th, give this one a try. This may be the very thing you've been looking for. When I serve this dish people tell me this is the best way they have ever eaten steak. Serve it with fried rice, top it over a nice stir-fry, or just eat it as-is with some potatoes. Have I ever steered you wrong?

I want to hear from you. If you have any comments about this recipe, or any other culinary or non-culinary questions, please email me at See you next week.

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Garlic 2 tbsp, fresh, minced
Ginger 2 tbsp, fresh, minced
Teriyaki ¾ cup
Black Bean Sauce ¼ cup
Sambal Olek ¼ cup
Sugar ½ cup
Scallion ¼ bunch, chopped
Sesame Oil 2 tbsp
Steak of Choice 6 ea

1. Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade, except for the steak, and combine thoroughly until the sugar is melted.
2. Reserve 1 cup of the marinade for glazing the steak after grilling.
3. Marinate the steaks for at least one day and up to three days for best results.
4. When you are ready to grill the steaks, please wipe the excess marinade off of the steaks so that the sugar doesn't burn during the cooking process.
5. For the best taste, do not cook the steaks past medium done.
6. Slice the steaks thin and glaze with the reserved marinade.