Well, gal bee!

Clockwise, from left: si gum chi na mul, shredded carrots, ho bak na mul, sook ju na mul, gal bee

There’s no greater treat (or easier meal) than grilled food when company comes calling. Slap some meat over a fire, serve it with a few simple side dishes and copious amounts of alcohol, and you’re guaranteed a good time and satisfaction all around.

But sometimes the burger/hot dog/steak axis wears thin, even early in the grilling season. I’ve had great great burgers/dogs/steaks, but only rarely are they memorable on their own. A kosher dog at Yankee stadium, when Gil and I were dating and he surprised me with a ticket to a Sunday game … totally memorable, but for the company. Steak cooked to perfection by R, my longtime boyfriend in St. Louis … again memorable, but for the secret family marinade I weaseled out of him (and which you won’t get here, dear reader — I made a promise and intend to keep it.).

But I did learn a lot of other things with R during our years together. Apart from the many cautionary lessons (which I choose not to dwell on), he taught me to shoot, something I still love to do whenever I make it out to the sporting clays range. I learned the most basic lessons of fly fishing, but haven’t gone back for years. And I learned a lot about Korean food.

See, R was a Korean cowboy-type from Tulsa, a good ol’ boy and gourmand in equal measure. His family loved entertaining with amazing home-cooked meals, so he learned quite a bit from them. Over the years after we parted ways, I cooked the few dishes I remembered and added my own spin to them, but I wanted more. Sure, I could live the rest of my life without eating the same version of Ja Jang Myun (noodles with soybean paste sauce) ever again, but did I really want to? Nuh-uh.

A few months ago, I finally managed to track down the out-of-print cookbook R had — Korean Cooking for You by Moon Ja Yoon — and have made old favorites many times since. But I can also turn to this cookbook for magnificent grilling recipes and produce something other than the typical cookout fare with minimal effort. So that’s what I did Saturday afternoon.

With the gal bee (short ribs), we had si gum chi na mul (spinach), ho bak na mul (zucchini), sook ju na mul (mung bean sprouts), and some awesomely pungent and fresh kim chi Gil picked up at the market Friday. And to make things super-simple, all of the na muls used the same seasoning ingredients, so it’s easy enough to mix up a big batch and just douse the different dishes at once.

Our weekend guest (Deb, Gil’s ex from college) is a smart girl who knows you can pick up wine anywhere, but a chocolate mousse cake from S&S Cheesecake … I … just … there are no words:

So that was dessert. And yes, we made short work of it:

recipes after the jump

All recipes are from Korean Cooking for You by Moon Ja Yoon. If you can find a used version, I highly recommend it.

Gal Bee (Broiled Short Ribs)

2 lb. flanken-style short ribs, 1/4 inch thick (We couldn’t find such thin ribs, so we used regular. A Korean grocery store will sell ribs sliced thinly, if you’re lucky enough to have access to one.)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine

seasoning sauce
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
2 medium green onions, chopped or sliced
2 teaspoons sesame seed, toasted/lightly pounded
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons water

Wash the meat and remove visible fat. Pound the meat lightly on both sides with the blunt edge of a knife. Place in a large ziploc bag, add sugar and wine, and mix well. Let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Combine seasoning sauce ingredients and mix well. Marinate the meat in seasoning sauce at least 15 minutes (I usually let them marinate overnight in the fridge).

Grill or oven-broil at 450 degrees for about 2 minutes per side or until brown. Obviously, if you go with thicker ribs, you’ll have to cook them longer. Also, beware of flare-ups. This is a fatty cut of meat and flames will shoot up through the grate when you turn them.

Si Gum Chi Na Mul

1 lb. fresh baby spinach
1 qt. water

seasoning ingredients
1 teaspoon soy sauce (I usually omit this, preferring the dish without.)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seed
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1-2 green onions, chopped (I like this with a LOT of green onion, so I use the upper amount.)
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Wash spinach thoroughly. Bring water to boil, add spinach, and cook for one minute.

Rinse spinach with cold water and drain well. Squeeze extra water out of spinach before continuing.

Add seasoning ingredients, mix thoroughly, and serve.

Ho Bak Na Mul

1 lb. zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt

seasoning ingredients
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seed
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Wash and cut the zucchini into thin slices. If you have one, this is the perfect time to break out your mandoline.

Sprinkle zucchini slices with salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Rinse and drain well.

Mix zucchini with seasoning ingredients and stir-fry over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Sook Ju Na Mul

1 lb. bean sprouts
1 qt. water

seasoning ingredients
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small green onion, chopped or sliced
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Clean and wash bean sprouts thoroughly.

Bring water to boil; add bean sprouts and cook for one minute, uncovered.

Drain well, add seasoning ingredients to bean sprouts, and mix well.

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