Nana Recipe Wednesday–Bul Kogi, or Korean Bar-B-Que Steak

by Sarah on March 30, 2011

Nana, in the front yard of their house in Hayward…..probably saying something along the lines of “take the damn picture already”…..I don’t know if Nana hated having her photograph taken or what–but so many of these pictures have her grimacing, making a silly face, or most often, sticking out her tongue.

Maybe that’s where I get it?  I suppose I have a fair amount of pictures of myself doing the same thing.

The more I go through Nana’s recipes, the more I am impressed by her prowess in the kitchen, particularly when it comes to dishes that were mostly unfamiliar to housewives of her era.  The cultural diversity is surprising, even given that Nana and Boppa were both travelers.

What’s also surprising is how good most of these international recipes taste–given they didn’t have all the conveniences that we have now.  For instance–I have not one, but two good Asian markets less than a mile from my house.  Two good Mexican markets, less than a mile from my house.  And many many more are just a short drive away.  When I realized that I had forgotten to buy kimchee to accompany this dinner, all I had to do was take a quick jaunt up to Oto’s.  But back in the 50’s and 60’s, I’m sure it wasn’t so easy, trying to replicate authentic flavors with whatever was on hand at the supermarket.

Have you gone to a Korean restaurant before?  I have only been a few times.  The first time, at the giant Oz Korean BBQ and the second time at a little joint called the Pine Tree House.  At Oz, you can grill your own meats right there at your table.  At Pine Tree House, we ordered little raw chili crabs (not cracked) which, when I tried to dismember them, splattered copious amounts of chili sauce and crab flesh all over my new black sweater, my hair and face.  Total crab humiliation.

This isn’t my first go-round with making Korean BBQ either.  Remember when I made the Korean BBQ tacos?  Now those were good.  Real good.

But Nana’s bul kogi is also very good.  And a snap to make, especially if the weather is good enough to light the grill.

Make marinade, toss in the meat, wait an hour, then grill.  The end.

It only takes a few minutes to grill them too–because you want a HOT grill.  They should sizzle and flare up a little.  A few little burnt-ish spots is desirable.

Flip ‘em over just once, then set aside till the rest are cooked.

Doesn’t it look good?

I served my steak with rice, stir-fried snow peas (recipe tomorrow) and kimchee.  Don’t forget the kimchee!

얼마나 맛있은 저녁식사!

Note:  Nana’s recipe called for 5 lbs sirloin or top sirloin roast.  What is pictured is 2 lbs of skirt steak, which was also very good.  Use your own judgement and make adjustments in ingredient amount, as necessary.

Nana's Bul Kogi, or Korean Bar-B-Que Steak


  • 5 lbs. sirloin or top sirloin roast
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp MSG
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, chopped


  • Cut steak across the grain into 1/2" thick large slices.
  • Combine all marinade ingredients. Add steak and mix until thoroughly coated. Let stand 3o minutes to 1 hour.
  • Grill quickly over hot charcoal.

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