Dish of the Week: Bulgogi

Categories: Meat!, Recipes

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Photo by Chloe Lim
Serve bulgogi the traditional way...or chopped it up and throw it into a cheese steak.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're looking at bulgogi.

Bulgogi is Korean dish of grilled, marinated beef that is said to have originated during the ancient Goguryeo era (37 BC-668 AD). Literally meaning "fire meat" in Korean, the beef is cooked on a gridiron over an open flame. Variations on the dish include dak bulgogi (made with chicken) and dwaeji bulgogi (made with pork).

Traditionally, bulgogi is made with thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef that are marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and spices that works to both flavor and tenderize the meat (sometimes, things like ginger, scallions, and pureed pears are added to the mix). It is often grilled alongside cloves of garlic, sliced onion, and green peppers before being served with whole lettuce leaves and ssamjang (a spicy Korean chili paste) -- though many variations on the dish exist.

Today, you'll find it in everywhere. Here in Houston, you can get everything from Koagie Hots' bulgogi cheese steaks to bulgogi-smothered fries at places like Oh My Gogi! Food Truck.


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Try These 5 Monster Sandwiches in Houston

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Photo by David Hale Smith
This bbq sandwich has everything but the kitchen sink...and then some.
From triple deckers loaded with slaw and delicatessen to a bbq number stacked with everything but the kitchen sink, here are five awesomely massive sandwiches to try in Houston:

See also:
Try These 5 Absolutely Loaded Pizzas
Try These 5 Absolutely Loaded Fries
Try These 5 Chili-Smothered Dishes


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A Few Answers to Common Questions About Meat

Categories: Meat!

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Photo by Anthony Albright
There's a lot of confusion at the average meat counter.

I've spent the past few years working in meat markets and the meat departments of specialty grocery stores, and have encountered a lot of confused people in that time. In a lot of cases, that confusion is understandable. There is a lot of bad information floating around about meat. Just searching online for info on meat reveals vastly different data, coming from both sides of the spectrum - Those who would convince you that eating meat is dangerous or evil, and those who believe it's a basic component of a healthy diet.

I'm not going to touch those debates. People are either going to eat meat or not, and I'm not trying to make that decision for anyone else.

However, there's a lot of ignorance among the meat-eating population out there. Here are a few of the types of questions I get asked daily.

What's a good steak to buy? I hear this question daily, and the answer is it depends on many factors. I ask customers how they plan to cook their steak, and often get bewildered deer-in-the-headlights looks in return. Then I'll usually ask if they're planning on grilling it in some fashion or have another plan.

Generally, my "go-to" steak suggestion is a rib eye, followed by a New York strip. The (usually) greater fat content in a rib eye makes it tasty, and rib eyes are hard to screw up by grilling or cooking in a pan. They're a basic steak that's moderately tender, and most people seem to like them. I personally don't enjoy New York strips as much, but a lot of people prefer them for some reason. So be it.

Sirloin is popular, and it's understandable. They pack a lot of flavor, and although they're not usually a really tender steak, if they're chosen and cooked right, they shouldn't be as tough as leather either. Some people grill them, and they can be delicious that way. I go the extreme route and grind them, making sirloin patties. Sirloin can be a little dry, but will remain juicy if it's not overcooked.

Then there is the beef tenderloin. That one is popular, and is one of the more expensive cuts of beef. It is a muscle from the cow's back that doesn't have much fat and is (guess that name came from somewhere) extremely tender. A lot of people like tenderloin, and I can understand the appeal. It's relatively small, and can almost be cut with a fork. A lot of people will wrap their filet mignon with bacon, and that's probably a good idea, as the bacon reintroduces fat to an extremely lean steak, which can be a bit dry and bland on its own. One of the reasons the tenderloin is so expensive is that it's labor intensive to remove the surrounding fat and tough membranes that encase it, and there is a lot of waste as a result.

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Chefs Represent Houston at Heritage Breed Pig Competition

Categories: Meat!

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Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Justin Yu of Oxheart worked on a pork-centric meal for judges at the Cochon 555 Heritage Breed Pig BBQ Competition in Austin on Sunday.

The challenge: prepare six courses using as many parts of a whole heritage breed pig for 24 judges. Consider how hard it would be to pull that off for private guests, much less be judged on it! That, however, is exactly what each chef had to pull off last Sunday for the Cochon 555 barbeque competition. This was in addition to preparing small plates throughout the night for a crowd that filled a ballroom of the W Hotel in Austin.

(The "555" stands for five cities that the tour goes to each year, five chefs that compete in each and five beverage pairings.)

The point of the event was to bring awareness about heritage breed pigs, like Duroc, Ossabaw and Yorkshire, which are far different from "commodity pigs" raised by farms that deal in big volume production. The meat is richer and fuller in flavor. Even the fat is tasty. As more farmers turn to commodity pigs to help them make ends meet, some heritage breeds are in danger of becoming extinct. They are harder to raise, not as profitable and require more attention.

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Chicken Sandwich Chronicles: Jerrybuilt

Categories: Meat!, On the Menu

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
This might taste better than the burger version.
Following a less-than-stellar experience with Smashburger's chicken sandwiches, advice poured in as to where better versions could be found.

Among those venues suggested was JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers, whose seasonal burgers, at least, have been impressive.

In fact, prior to the chicken sandwich tipoff, I had planned a trip to the restaurant to try their special September burgers designed by local food writers and bloggers as part of JerryBuilt's ambassador program.

Two chickens could be killed with one stone during this visit, however, as almost all the ambassador burgers can be made with a chicken breast rather than a beef patty.

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5 Houston Meat Markets That Will Make Any Carnivore Happy

Categories: Meat!

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Photo by Phil Denton
A nicely stocked meat counter is a thing of beauty.

For many people, heading to the local megachain supermarket to get a few steaks or some ground meat for the evening's meal just won't cut it. Instead, those folks prefer to seek out meaty treasures from a standalone meat market, a type of business that is not as common as they once were, but that often offer cuts of meat and in house specialties that are not likely to end up on the shelves of most regular grocery stores.

Fortunately for residents of H-Town, the Houston area has quite a few good options for those individuals who want different types of choices when it comes to the meat they buy. Many of the existing meat markets have a definite old school charm as a result of being in business for many decades, and a trip to some of these places can feel like a trip in a time machine. Regardless of whether they trigger a nostalgic journey down memory lane or not, all of these meat markets offer their customers choices they won't easily find elsewhere.

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Smashburger's Not-So-Smashing Chicken Sandwich

Categories: Meat!, On the Menu

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Yes, that looks like something I might enjoy.
Can a burger joint offer a chicken sandwich that's as good or better than its hamburgers? Dare to dream, you say. Burger King's chicken sandwiches have the texture of sponges and are way over-salted, and the jury's still out whether McDonald's actually uses actual chicken in its sandwiches.

Well, at least let's do some cursory research first.

As far as small-chain burger joints go, Smashburger is not the best, but historically their beef products (at least in my experience) are very good. And given the wide range of types of chicken sandwiches, this menu item doesn't seem to be just an afterthought designed to appease a non-red meat eater dragged to the restaurant by her bovine-loving posse of friends.

Their "Smashchicken" varietals available include Truffle Mushroom Swiss; Avocado Club; BBQ Bacon Cheddar; Spicy Jalapeno Baja; Spinach, Cumber & Goat; Create-Your-Own.

With all chicken sandwiches, there is a choice of preparation (grilled or crispy) and bun (classic egg, spicy chipotle, gluten-free, multi-grain). Unlike in the case of their burgers, Smashchicken sandwiches come in only one size.

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The Olajuwon at Kahn's Deli Is A Slam Dunk

Categories: Meat!, On the Menu

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Sandwich refuses to be halved, so protein heavy is the interior.

Although Kahn's Delicatessen has been serving sizable "real sandwiches" to the Houston community since 1945, the restaurant is often overlooked in favor of powerhouse delis such as Kenny & Ziggy's. H-towners should spread the love to Kahn's, which also knows a thing or two about what to put between two slices of bread.

Among its old-school sandwich offerings is the "Olajuwon," a true submarine of a sandwich containing corned beef, knockwurst, swiss and cheddar cheeses, sauerkraut and dressed with spicy mustard and housemade Russian dressing. The Olajuwon is so named, one assumes, for the famous former Rockets star, and given that it boasts a full pound of meat (thereby making it appropriate fuel for 6'10" center), its name is fitting. Except, however, if the knockwurst used is made with pork, verboten for devout Muslims such as Olajuwon. Anyhoo.

This story continues on the next page.

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What Your Hot Dog Toppings Say About You

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Photo by Steven Depolo
They say your hot dog toppings are a window into your soul.
You know what they say. You can tell a lot about someone by what they put atop their hot dog. Okay, so maybe nobody actually says that. But we swear it's true!

Here's what your hot dog toppings say about you:

Just Ketchup: You're mom still does your laundry...and you don't mind one bit. What? She folds the like a boss and she never shrinks your deep vees.

Just Mustard: Let's just say you're not exactly a risk taker, but you know what you like and you stick with it. Even if it does mean you've been stood up by the same Tinder date three nights in a row.


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Burger Report: Cottonwood's Bleu Cheese Burger

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Photo by Brooke Viggiano
There's a lot going on in this burger...and we love it all.
Though Cottonwood is known mostly as craft beer bar, it has some serious burger game. And while we've already waxed poetic about their poblano-and-fried-egg-laden Squirrel Master Burger -- it even made our critic's 100 Favorite Dishes of 2013 -- that doesn't mean the other burgers aren't just as good.

The Bleu Cheese Stuffed Burger ($10), for example, is ridiculously just as good. And it all starts with the patty.

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