Gluten Free Korean Beef

Sapporo. A city in Northern Japan, but more importantly, (well, maybe less importantly) my favorite restaurant in the entire world. This little number of a Japanese buffet (think classy Ala cart, not hot bar Chinese)  was a reward for a hard day, or a celebration of good times, or heck, just the place I would go fairly often when I had a hankering for some delicious grub.

There were competing Japanese Buffets around, and I tried them all, but NONE compared to Sapporo.

Here, you could sample sirloin tips in garlic, or crispy tempera shrimp, or a delightful shrimp tempura roll, but one thing that stuck out to me on this menu was the BBQ beef ribs. Not the kind of BBQ ribs you would find at Chilis, but a Korean style rib cut thinly across the bone and marinated in a mix of soy, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic.

Beef Bulgogi, as they would call it in Korea, was listened number 23 on the “World’s 50 most delicious foods” by CNN in 2011. That’s some good beef right there.

We could usually polish off several orders of this beef before sauntering home and falling into a 4 hour soy-induced nap.Those were good days. Now, having Celiac, I would get a stomach ache just walking into Sapporo I’m sure.

While attempted to make this recipe, my husband and I made several different recipes from the web. Coming in first place was Epicurious’s rendition of this tasty treat. I learned that traditionally you BBQ the meat, then wrap it in lettuce (like a Korean lettuce wrap) and eat with fresh garlic and green chili. Anxious to try the traditional way, I foolishly bit into a full clove of garlic and ¼ raw green chili pepper, and couldn’t get the fire out of my mouth for a few hours.

Fittingly so, as Bulgogi means “fire meat” in Korean. But boy, was it worth it.

Here is my gluten free adaption of this fantastic dish!

Gluten Free Korean Beef Recipe

gluten free version loosely adapted from Chef John J. Nihoff

Servings 2-3

Cost per serving $2.75

1lb Korean style beef short ribs (available at Asian market)

(if unavailable, ask butcher to cut beef sirloin very thinly)

1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce or tamari

2 Tbsp sugar or honey

1 green onion-chopped

1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

1/2 medium onion-pureed in food processor

2 cloves garlic-minced

1/2 tsp ginger-minced

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

2 Tbsp canola oil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Whisk together gluten free soy, sugar, sesame oil, mirin, onion, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, green onion and black pepper. Pour marinade into large freezer bag and add in ribs. (if you purchased the Korean style ribs, you can cut individual ribs with scissors. They are easier to cook this way) Coat well and let sit for at least 4 hours or overnight in refrigerator.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.

Remove beef from marinade and add to skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes, turning over a few times. Be careful not to burn it.

You can serve with rice, or the traditional way, with lettuce, garlic and green chili.

Top with additional toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!


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