It’s not quite BBQ season yet, but we’re all itching to break out the charcoal, call our friends over and…eat! Chef May (who you may have had in a Sushi or Chinese Dumplings class) hosts the best get togethers and makes it look effortless. We sat down with her for a quick bite and to find out about her favorite way to entertain:
Hi May! Thanks for having us over. What’s your favorite way to entertain these days?
Korean BBQ! Going out with a large group can be really expensive, so we have everyone over and ask a few people to pick up sides on their way in. It’s a very informal is very communal. We live in L.A., so it’s important to have a spread to let people customize. Keeps everyone happy.
Do you prefer grilling inside or out?
Sometimes we set up the outdoor grill at home; I don’t like to get the house too smoky. I use a charcoal grill instead of gas because the smell of charcoal makes for better flavor over propane. We like to use the harder, slower burning charcoal because it doesn’t burn out as fast and won’t impart the strong charcoal flavor- we like to let the meat shine.
What does the menu look like?
Korean BBQ is the perfect party menu when you stick to the classic stuff- short ribs (galbi), marinated pork, Korean sides- which I sometimes make them and sometimes pick up. You gotta take a few hours the morning of or night before to marinate the meat and make good Korean rice. I love having these pancakes going as people walk in. Pa Jeon is addictive!
Say I only had time to marinate meat and make rice- what’s the best thing to pick up from a market?
Unless your Korean grandmother is around with her magical Kimchi, I suggest picking it up from a local market. I like getting store-bought seaweed salad and spicy cucumbers.
What kind of rice should we buy? Is Sushi rice ok?
Yes- a good brand that you can easily find is Nishiki. Always rinse your rice several times with cold water to get rid of the excess starch- the grains should stick together but not get mushy. Let the rice drain for 15-20 minutes. I use a heavy bottom pot- don’t judge!- to cook the rice. You’ll want to use 1-1/4 cups of water for every cup of rice, bring them together to a simmer, covered, then lower to heat to low and cook another 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, keep the rice covered, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
What kind of meat do you get?
My favorite dish is Dak Galbi, or chicken with Gochujang chilis and rice cakes. This dish comes together really quickly and cooks in less than 15 minutes. It looks super cute on the leaves (see recipe and photo above).
For the red meat crowd, you want to get thin, flank-style beef short ribs. I marinate it for at least 4 hours with soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, more sugar than you think you need, honey and grated Asian pear (this helps tenderize the meat with its natural enzymes). You can also source a thin pork shoulder or neck steaks- I make the marinade a little spicier with garlic, ginger, gochujang -a Korean chili paste- honey, sugar, soy, scallions- all blended in the food processor and also marinated 4 hours or overnight.
Once the meat is marinated, get the grill really hot. Sear the steaks for 2-3 minutes on each side and 4 minutes on each side for a 1/2″ pork or steak. Let your meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Anything else you want to add?
I set out all the condiments on the table, leaving space for the meats as they come off the grill. We usually set out Bibb or butter lettuce leaves out to wrap everything up in. You can also get Perilla leaves from the Korean market for more edible wraps.
Wait! Tell us your favorite Korean markets to shop at in L.A.:
HK Market on Western & Beverly and Galleria Market (various locations).
Pa Jeong Dipping Sauce
|3 Tbsps||Rice wine vinegar|
|3 Tbsps||Soy sauce|
|1/2 tsp||Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)|
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar,and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
|2 tsps||Vegetable oil|
|1/2 cup||Ice cold water|
|1/4 cup||All purpose flour|
|1/4 cup||Rice flour|
|1/4 cup||Very finely chopped scallions|
|1/4 cup||Very finely chopped carrots|
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs just until frothy. Add flours and salt and whisk to combine. Add vegetables. Add 1/2 cup ice water and mix again to blend.
- Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add oil. Ladle about 4 ounces batter into pan and flatten slightly. Allow to sit until browned and crispy on bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip pancake and cook another 2 minutes.
Place on a serving plate and keep warm (or set aside to serve at room temperature). Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with dipping sauce, tearing or cutting off pieces of pancake to dip in sauce with fingers or chopsticks.