Celebrate Olympic Fever with Korean Style Cuisine

I am obsessed with the Olympics!  The coming together of nations in the spirit of competition continually reminds us of the power of sports and strength of the human spirit.  The athletes and coaches prepare for the event of a lifetime, while a host country extends the best of themselves to the world.  We are so fortunate to have a front row seat to the best of every country's athletic perfection and all that the beautiful country of South Korea has to offer.

A great part of learning all that you can about a culture is sharing their cuisine.  Researching and preparing a meal from the host country is a great way to feel a part of the Olympics from far away. 

Korean cuisine is based on a largely agricultural society and is built around rice, vegetables and meat. Kimchi, a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, is served at nearly every meal. Korean BBQ is often cooked in a gas or charcoal grill that is built directly into the table.  It is usually beef, pork or chicken, and the most popular Korean BBQ is called bulgogi which is usually made from thinly sliced marinated beef sirloin or tenderloin.

I recently prepared a meal of Korean style BBQ for family and friends to celebrate this special Olympic time and the host country. I used a beef marinade and thinly sliced the beef to make lettuce wraps, and served them with Kimchi (purchased at my local Asian market) and a Korean Potato Salad that I found from a great Korean website (www.MyKoreanKitchen.com).

The meal was an unexpected treat for our guests and left us all ready to settle in for an evening of Olympics.  We are already planning for our next meal based on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.   

Korean Style Beef Marinade

  • 2 large thinly cut top sirloin (about 32 oz.)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 small Asian pear, peeled and finely grated
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ lb small sweet peppers
  • ½ lb shitake mushrooms
  • 1 head of butter bib lettuce
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)

Sprinkle brown sugar over beef and mix well to evenly coat. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes while preparing marinade. In a bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients, keeping back 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Transfer beef into a large sealable freezer bag (you may need 2). Add marinade, press out excess air from bags, and seal. Turn bag over several times to ensure beef is evenly coated. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

Heat gas or charcoal grill to medium-hot. Drain excess marinade off beef. Grill beef, turning once, to desired doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Slice thin strips for lettuce wraps.  Garnish with thinly sliced green onions, if desired.

Sautee thinly sliced peppers and mushrooms in 1 tsp sesame oil.  

Remove whole lettuce leaves. Clean and dry leaves.

Prepare lettuce wraps with beef, peppers, mushrooms and spicy aioli.

Spicy Aioli

  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chili paste
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Mix well.