Bulgogi Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw, Fried Eggs and Creamy-Spicy Sauce
After last year’s blowout, we decided to keep things relatively low-key and host a “small” fiesta at our apartment on Saturday afternoon. Thirty of Logan’s nearest and dearest showed up to watch football, inhale buffalo chicken fingies, and generally get weird with the birthday boy, who was in excellent form. It was a very festive celebration.
On his actual birthday, Logan and I went out to a fancy dinner, and then I unveiled the first of his presents. Not gonna lie, I was pretty stressed about what to get the Dude this year. There are several things he needs, like a good pair of dress shoes and a couple grown-up belts, but I didn’t want to get him a “practical present,” lest he use that as an excuse to gift me “necessary” ski gear for Christmas. Do not want.
In honor of the Dude’s love affair with Widespread Panic, I casually Googled “WSP paraphernalia,” and after wasting several hours looking at ugly t-shirts, I eventually stumbled across a poster signed by the whole band. Jackpot. Despite my well-documented anti-Panic stance, I knew that this poster was pay dirt on the present front. The things we do for love.
(Unfortunately, Logan did not vomit or pass out upon opening the poster, but he was freakishly thrilled by it, so I consider it a win.)
In keeping with tradition, Logan’s second present was food-based. Although I asked him months ago to start thinking about what he wanted for his birthday feast (which only led to him aggressively tagging me in daily BBQ Instagrams), he never gave me a specific request. I floated some creative ideas last week, but for whatever reason, he didn’t seem particularly enthused by any of them.
Then I mentioned bulgogi.
For those of you not familiar with bulgogi, it’s super flavorful Korean barbecued beef, and Logan is mildly obsessed with it. (Partially because he likes to say the word “bulgogi.”) Anyhoo, I took, “FUCK YES, BULGOGI!” as my cue to start recipe testing, and on Tuesday, I finally served the Dude these Bulgogi Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw, Fried Eggs and Creamy Spicy Sauce. (We’re all about the “birthday week” around here.)
Sweet. Baby. Jesus.
I feel a lot of emotions right now about these Korean BBQ sandwiches. On the one hand, I want to scream happy expletives, do some sort of inspirational cheer (sadly, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” is the only thing that comes to mind), and generally fangirl over this bulgogi. On the other hand, I’m scared that I may have peaked. What if it’s all down hill for Domesticate ME! after the incomparable deliciousness of bulgogi sandwiches??? I may have inadvertently screwed myself…
For real though, get a load of these extraordinary beasts! First and foremost, there’s the bulgogi beef. Sliced thin and marinated in a sweet and savory blend of soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, fresh ginger and spices, it gets pan-fried until beautifully browned and caramelized. The meat is then piled onto a squishy roll, topped with crunchy/tangy slaw, a perfect runny egg, and lots of creamy, Sriracha-laced sauce. Each bite is a textural wonderland, and the flavor party is straight-up ridonculous. It’s a special kind of magic, friends.
I’ve been around long enough to know that some of you are going to get pissy when you see the length of this recipe. Breathe through it. There’s actually a lot of ingredient overlap in the bulgogi, slaw, and sauce, and you should already have several of the necessary items in your pantry/fridge. (Right?!). Yes, there’s a significant amount of hands-on time involved (relax, I’m still talking less than an hour), but each step is 100% idiot-proof. I’m mostly just asking you to chop and stir things, and then do about 12 minutes of simple cooking at the end. You got this. (Virtual butt slap.)
FYI, you can easily prep the entire recipe up to a full day in advance and pan-fry the beef à la minute, making these sandwiches an excellent choice for casual entertaining. Remember when Beyoncé came onto the field during the Super Bowl and people lost their minds? I imagine you’d get a similar response when presenting bulgogi sandwiches/sliders(?!) at your next weird football party. I get a little giddy/goosebump-y just thinking about it.
I chose to serve this bulgogi awesomeness on potato rolls because it was Logan’s birthday, and the Dude deserved to get freaky with a dank sando. But on the average (Dude Diet-friendly) day, I highly recommend turning these sandwiches into lettuce wraps, or serving everything over quinoa/brown rice. If you want to go realllly light, feel free to substitute chicken, pork, or tofu (if you’re into that) for the steak. Boom.
I’m pleased to report that the Dude was (in)appropriately enamored with this epic birthday creation. I had fluffed him for the meal by texting sexy bulgogi pics to him at work, so by the time I put the sandwiches in front of him, he was in a state of extreme anticipatory excitement. After downing half a sandwich in a single bite, shamelessly licking sauce and egg yolk of his fingers, and stating, “If I ever die eating, at least I’m doing something happy,” Logan gave a glowing review of the dankness. There were no tears (which was disappointing), but in his post-dinner food coma, he did repeatedly mutter, “My Swolf does not fuck around in the kitchen. She does not fuck around.” PREACH.
Bulgogi Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw and Creamy-Spicy Sauce: (Serves 4)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce (or low-sodium tamari for da gluten-free folks)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 pound lean steak (You can use beef tenderloin, sirloin, flank steak or any other cut you like. Obviously, the better the meat, the better the bulgogi.)
For the tangy slaw:
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
½ cup julienned carrots
½ cup julienned radishes
For the creamy-spicy sauce:
½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic, grated
4 rolls of your choice (I dig potato rolls for this particular awesomeness.)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
4 fried eggs (optional)
Preparing your Bulgogi Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw, Creamy-Spicy Sauce:
-Let’s start with the bulgogi marinade! In a mixing bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, crushed red pepper, black pepper, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, scallions and sesame seeds. Briefly set aside.
-Slice your steak against the grain as thinly as possible. (Popping the steak in the freezer for 20 minutes will make it easier to get thin slices. You should probably do that.)
-Using your hands, massage the marinade into the sliced beef, making sure each piece is well coated. (Yes, this is kind of gross, but also fun.) Cover the beef with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Obviously, the longer you marinate, to more tender and flavorful your bulgogi will be.
-Meanwhile, make your slaw. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Add the cabbage, carrots and radishes, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
-Now it’s time to cook the bulgogi. Depending on the size of your pan, you’ll need to pan-fry the meat in 2-3 batches. Heat a large saucepan (or wok) over high heat. When hot, remove steak from the marinade and add it to the pan in a single layer. Let it sear (don’t move it!) for about 2 minutes.
-To assemble your bulgogi sandwiches: Pile bulgogi onto the each roll. Top with slaw, fresh cilantro, fried eggs, and creamy-spicy sauce. (I like to spread a generous amount of sauce on the top half of each roll, but you do what you want). Serve immediately.
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