Beef bulgogi (불고기) & the art of velveting

Bulgogi, also known as 불고기, is a dish that’s easy to make and gives you great flavour. In Korea, bulgogi is one of the most popular dishes in the country, up to the point there are even bulgogi pizza. It actually just means grilled meat (as I have been told), and there is no real standardized recipe for it, as the recipe varies from one region to another. When hearing or reading the word ‘bulgogi’, I somehow always imagine an English Bulldog as a yogi. Nice mental image. 

The art of velveting… I must say that without knowing what it is, it sounds rather seductive. Or like one or the other fetish, but maybe that’s just my head. I let the twisted imaginations carry on going where they’re going. Anyway, the key words here are ‘tender’ and ‘meat’ (wiggles eyebrows) and it’s all about keeping it juicy (could not resist). I had always wondered how in Asian restaurants, they manage to keep the meat so tender. Although I have Asian friends with a restaurant (stereotyping!), it had never really crossed my mind to just ask them what the secret to this tender meat was. As you might have guessed from earlier blog posts, I hate chewy meat from the bottom of my heart. 

Until one evening late where you search the internet for interesting things and you go from reading on the life of one or the other author, to videos of talking llamas to.. well yes, recipes and meat tenderizing procedures in Asia. An egg white, a bit of oil, and cornstarch – this is it. I just told you the secret, don’t keep it! Traditionally, the meat is first marinated in the egg white & cornstarch mix and then seared in a very hot frying pan. I’ve adapted the velveting procedure to something convenient for mysel, which is probably blasphemy since I’ve taken out the egg white. For me, the result seems to be equally satisfying with oil & cornstarch alone. 

The quantities in this dish are based on a light lunch for two people. Anything and everything can be replaced by something else. If you prefer chicken, go ahead (but do velvet the chicken first!). Mango and avocado are in no way obligatory, you can easily replace them by other vegetables, all according to your taste.

Enjoy it as much as it did,


For the velvet: 

  •  2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  •  3 tablespoons of sesame oil
  •  300 -350 grams of lean meat, in thin slices
  •  pinch of salt

For the marinade: 

  • 1,5 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of red curry paste
  • 1/4th of grated apple (preferably a very sweet one, like Gala)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of minced ginger (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of rice wine
  • 1 tabespoon of soy sauce

For the rest: 

  • 120 grams of quinoa (or rice)
  • 4 slices of mango 
  • half an avocado, sliced
  • half an onion, diced
  • peanut butter, melted


For the velveting: 

  1. Cut the meat into thin slices.
  2. Add the cornstarch and mix with the meat, then add the oil.
  3. Let sit for about 20 -30 minutes while you do the rest. 
  4. In a deep bowl, mix the minced ginger and garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, curry paste, rice wine and grated apple. Mix until all ingredients have dissolved completely. 
  5. Add the marinade to the meat and stir through with a spoon until all of the meat is equally covered, let sit for about an hour. 
  6. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package. 
  7. Heat a pan with a bit of sesame oil and stir in the onions. Let them cook for about a minute before adding the beef to the pan. Pan fry for two minutes and then turn down the heat on low while you plate the bowls. 
  8. Put half of the quinoa in a bowl and press down a bit, decorate the bowl with a couple of slices of mango and avocade, add the meat and top off with a drizzle of the warm peanut butter and a pinch of dried chilli flakes or sesame seeds. 





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