When I taught Food Science at the British International School of Oslo, the annual social highlight was its International Food Evening, which incidentally, I missed in the final year due to the birth of our daughter who chose this, of all evenings to arrive!! Celebrating the vast international culture in which we lived, classrooms were turned over to ‘countries’ and parents prepared food, drinks and entertainment; my top choices were the Asian rooms; Japan, Korea, Vietnam…. So different to European cuisine and oh so tasty.

On a smaller scale, there is similar event takes place at the junior school here in Paris but, this time it is the children who are the visitors and once again, the parents volunteer an extraordinary amount of time and effort into culinary treats food and activities. Though a British School, there are many, many different nationalities that attend (I think that I am correct in recollecting 60) and with this, the cultural benefits are priceless. We try our hardest to understand, accommodate, develop and grow as a global community; it is truly wonderful to witness no cultural prejudice and this, hopefully, will be with every child (and adult) for the remainder of their days…


As would be expected, many of my connections are through food. I recently found a stash of recipes that were given to me by my international students during our Oslo years but, last night’s dinner was based around a Korean recipe that ‘from’ Paris: Bulgogi – ‘Fired Meat’.


My version uses ingredients that I had available though I did buy a 500g slab of bavette from my local butcher – supermarket brands are simply too tough and chewey so the extra few pennies are well worth the end result.


Bulgogi (pronounced Pulgogi) - Korean Fired Beef

serves 4

  • 500 – 600g bavette (skirt beef)
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • Marinade
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 125ml white wine
  • 1 pear – Asian if poss. but any hard variety will be fine, as will apple or kiwi, diced
  • 2 spring onions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, depending on size, chopped
  • (1 tbsp. sugar – I used sweet white wine so omitted)
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tbsp. fresh black pepper
  • (a little grated ginger and a sprinkle of chilli flakes could be added, if desired)


Prepare the marinade by placing all of the ingredients into a tall jug; zap to a paste with a hand blender.

Arrange the meat in a single layer in a nonmetallic dish – I sliced the bavette in half lengthways. Pour over the marinade and massage into the meat, sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for several hours.

Traditionally, this dish is barbequed but, it works equally as well if it is grilled which I did, using a stove top grill pan.

About an hour before cooking, remove the meat from the fridge then preheat the grill pan. For medium rare, cook the meat 5 minutes on each side but a couple of minutes longer if you prefer meat well done. It is important for the meat to rest for a few minutes before serving then slice and serve directly at the table.


Aside from a weekend treat of a bowl of chips, I prepared 2 simple Korean salads to accompany the Bulgogi: Korean Lettuce salad which uses a picante, soy based dressing and Korean Cucumber Salad. For the latter, I didn’t have plum extract (now on my shopping list) so substituted plum hoisin sauce which, if not authentic, still produced a tasty dressing.



Korean Lettuce Salad

  • Crunchy, green salad leaves

Dressing

  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ tsp. chilli powder (or to taste)
  • Small bunch snipped chives


Whisk together the dressing ingredients and sprinkle over the lettuce immediately before serving.


Korean Cucumber Salad

  • ½ cucumber, sliced
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced


Dressing

  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. plum extract
  • 1 tsp. black (or white) sesame seeds
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Combine the dressing ingredients together and pour over the cucumber and shallot. This easily lasts for a couple of hours before serving; cling film and store in the fridge until required.