It’s Monday, and I anticipate that at least for a short while to come, I will actually have this day off each week though as looming reality intrudes, working a seven-day workweek isn’t far off on the horizon.

So, after having a cortado for breakfast at Cafe Tribu (free, thanks–I’m a baker there, remember?), I headed off to the Koreana Plaza because…damn! Bon Appetit had a list of banchan and bulgogi dishes I simply had to pick up the ingredients for. At Koreana I got myself some gochujang (pepper paste) and some very reasonably priced, tender ribeye steaks perfect for the bulgogi.

Now…in Korean cuisine, banchan are side-dishes to a main course, so…would I have to get ingredients for at least seven different side dishes? And cook them all this afternoon?

Why, yes, Virginia. (And don’t bother asking ‘who Virginia is’–google it: old farts even my age may not even be familiar with the expression, though “I’m your father, Luke…” could be the current generation’s go-to near oblique reference.)

But no–could I stop at only seven? gooness gwashus no! Here is the rundown, folks:

-Bulgogi — marinated beef
-Gochujang Date Sauce — a sweet and spicy chili sauce
-Sesame Pepper Bean Sprouts
-Sesame Carrots
-Garlicky Spinach
-Soy-Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms
-Sautéed Zucchini
-Scallion Slaw
-Wakame — a seaweed
-Sweet and Sour Pickled Daikon
-Ganmadoki (fried tofu fritters–but this doesn’t count, I bought it at Tokyo Fish Market)

-Kimchi (homemade but too salty?)
-Asahi Beer (the second of two Japanese items on the menu)

The cooking process was fairly straightforward–I began marinating the steak and put it in the fridge, and started on the various vegetables, one at a time. While one waited, I would get started on the next, usually to parboil something a bit. Whole process was possibly three hours, but when one is being creative and having fun, flime ties they say.

The meat was a joy, apparently well tenderized by the folks at Koreana Plaza, so the actual cooking process for each little batch of meat was two minutes, tops. By far, the meat was the hit as it well should be.


I had managed this time to get the beer into the freezer with plenty of time, such that it had just the right temperature of super cold. The bulgogi meat was delicious, and overall, of the several banchan on the table, not all were amazing but the pleasure was in the textural variety. Bean sprouts (once I added a bit more salt) were acceptable, the soy-glazed shiitake were definite keepers, the Wakame, unassuming as ever, worked well, and the fried zucchini were the biggest hits. Much to my surprise, my wife took to the Gochujang medjool date paste quite well, and started to imagine its use in many other dishes. ‘English muffin, Gochujang spread, and a fried egg on top,’ she quoted to me from an online source. ‘Make that sometime!’ she opined.

My wife…asking me to cook with more heat…astounding.