Not until I moved into my own apartment did I start to love Asian food. It was then that I browsed cookbooks for new recipes. “Borrowed” a couple from the library (don’t ask about my blacklisting). Spent a cool million at the Asian market, loading my pantry with fish sauce, oyster sauce, and toasted sesame oil.
It wasn’t immediate immersion. What is that flavor that I’m missing in my own kitchen attempts? Soy sauce, check. Ginger, check. Sesame oil, check. Sugar, check, check , check (an admitted sweet seeker, here). What I’ve discovered, other than that soy sauce doesn’t rinse out of my favorite white button down, is that these dishes achieve that brilliant balance of sweet and savory with the addition of a few splashes of ingredients like fish sauce, oyster sauce, and chili paste.
This is one of my favorite Asian meals: Korean Beef Bulgogi. It’s outrageously flavorful. I marinated the flank steak in soy, sesame, sugar, and chili, and grilled it until the edges charred. I love pairing it with a zesty ginger slaw, and piling it into soft tortillas to give the meal a fun Asian-Mexican fusion–something I began loving here in Seattle, a city where food trucks reign and plates of hot Korean tacos are gobbled up all the time.
Marinate the beef: In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, chili sauce, garlic, and scallions. Put the beef in a large resealable plastic bag or shallow bowl and pour the marinade on top. Seal or cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Make the slaw: In a small bowl, whisk the fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, chili sauce, garlic, and ginger.
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, radishes, scallions, and bell peppers. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Grill the beef: Preheat your gas grill to high. Remove the steak from the marinade and discard the liquid. Once hot, grill the steak for 5 minutes per side. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain.
Lay corn tortillas on a work surface, divide the steak among them, and pile a spoonful of zesty ginger slaw on top. Serve immediately.