Cookbook author Maangchi shares the perfect recipe for a lunchbox: beef bulgogi lettuce wraps.
for the fluffy white rice:
2 cups short-grain white rice
for the soybean paste dipping sauce:
½ cup Korean fermented soybean paste (doenjang)
1 teaspoon Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 scallion, chopped
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
for one portion of the lettuce-wrapped bulgogi rice dosirak:
1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
½ scallion (white or green part), chopped
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
pinch of ground black pepper
4 ounces beef sirloin or tenderloin, sliced thin
1 cup freshly cooked fluffy white rice
6 leaf lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons soybean paste dipping sauce
cherry tomatoes, halved, for garnish
1. Put the rice in a heavy saucepan and cover with cold water. Tilt the pan and slowly pour out the water, taking care not to pour out any rice (you can also drain the rice through a strainer and return it to the pan). Swish the wet rice around in the pan with one hand, then fill the pan with cold water again, swish, and drain. Do this a few more times, changing the water each time, until the water runs clear. Drain as much water as you can. The rice will still be wet.
2. Add 2 cups water to the rice. Cover the pan and let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
3. Place the pan, still covered, over medium-high heat and let the water come to a boil. This should take 7 to 8 minutes. The cover will shake and the water will begin to boil over. As soon as this happens, remove the lid to allow steam to escape. Stir the rice with a wooden spoon or rice scoop to make sure that none is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
4. Partially cover the pan, leaving the lid just a little bit ajar so that the rice won’t boil over again. Boil for 1 minute, then cover tightly and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 7 to 8 minutes.
5. Uncover the rice and test for doneness. Take a small bite (be careful not to burn your tongue!); the rice should be soft. If it is still slightly crunchy, cover and steam for a couple of minutes more, until it is fully cooked. Even if it looks as though all the water has evaporated, the rice will continue to steam and soften.
6. Gently fluff the rice with a wooden spoon or rice scoop and serve.
Note: If not serving right away, fluff the rice and leave uncovered until it has stopped steaming. Cover until ready to serve. You can refrigerate the rice in an airtight container for up to 1 week. To reheat, place each serving in a microwave and heat for 1 minute. Or reheat in a steamer.
7. Make the soybean paste dipping sauce: Combine the soybean paste, hot pepper paste, garlic, scallion, sugar, and sesame oil in a bowl and mix together well with a spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve. It’s best to serve this fresh, but it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
8. Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, scallion, sesame seeds, pepper, and 1 tablespoon water in a bowl and mix well until the sugar has dissolved. Add the beef and mix well with a spoon or by hand.
9. Heat a medium skillet over high heat, add the marinated beef, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the beef is no longer pink and the marinade has evaporated.
10. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the meat to cool. Divide into 6 equal portions.
11. Divide the rice into 6 equal portions.
12. Put a lettuce leaf in your palm, add a portion of rice, 1 teaspoon of the dipping sauce, and a portion of the bulgogi, and place it in the lunchbox. Make 5 more wraps to fill the lunchbox and garnish with cherry tomatoes.