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Eric Kim calls himself a "Food Network baby." He's part of a generation that watched cooking shows after school, and now that generation is all grown up. Eric—who says he wouldn't be where he is today without Rachael—grew up to become a New York Times food writer and the author of the new cookbook, Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home. He created this recipe with help from his Korean mom, Jean.
"What I have here is not the comforting, melt-in-your-mouth bulgogi—thinly sliced beef, marinated then grilled—that's so ubiquitous in Korean restaurants and most home kitchens today. This is my own creation, adding to the pantheon of bulgogi recipes out there. As a nod to my hometown (lemon pepper has a deep and passionate fan base in Atlanta), the citrusy, aromatic spice rub in this version dusts thinly sliced rib eye, which gets seared and then marinated post-cook in a lemony shallot mixture. The thing with a beef cut this thin is you want to fry it on a very hot surface for as little time as possible (but while also gaining as much color in that short time). It's a dance and one that is best done on a grill pan, but a very hot skillet would work, too. You want crisp edges, and if you're lucky, for the fat to bubble up and crisp. On the subject of black pepper: I'm convinced that we as home cooks don't use as much of it as we could, and don't truly know what it even tastes like. One proper lick and you can appreciate the peppercorn for what it really is: an aromatic berry. Couple that fruitiness with dehydrated lemon zest (it takes just 20 minutes in the oven), which, when rubbed into the coarse black pepper, releases its oils and latches onto the pepper, and vice versa, and they seem almost to transform one another. All that pepper will give you a tingling sensation, as well, and tastes fab with the sour-sweet quick-pickled shallots." —Eric
Pro Tip from Eric: If you can't find bulgogi-style beef, then you can just do it yourself: Place a boneless rib eye in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up, then slice thinly with a very sharp knife.
For more Korean-inspired recipes, check out Rach's Bibimbap with Beef and these crowd-pleasing wings by former NY Giants running back Rashad Jennings that are perfect for game day.
Preheat the oven to 170°F.
Evenly spread out the lemon zest on a sheet pan and bake until completely dried out, 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice and shallots in a small bowl, season with salt, toss, and set aside to quick-pickle.
Add the dried-out lemon zest and the black peppercorns to a spice grinder or mortar/pestle and grind until coarse. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon salt, the demerara sugar, and garlic powder.
Use a paper towel to pat the meat dry and lay it out on a cutting board or sheet pan in a single layer. Season both sides with the lemon pepper.
Heat a large grill pan or skillet until very, very hot (you may see a wisp of smoke rise from the surface) and add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add the bulgogi to the pan in a single layer and cook until crispy and well browned, about 1 minute on the first side and literally a few seconds on the second. You may need to work in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan.
Transfer to a plate and top with the pickled shallots, jalapeno, and cilantro. Serve with white rice.
Excerpted from Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home by Eric Kim. Copyright © 2022 by Eric Kim. Used with permission by Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved.