Recipe: A-OK Foods may be closing, but the deliciously addictive bulgogi torta lives on
By Chris Jang
PREP TIME: 25 minutes
REFRIGERATION TIME: 1 hour
COOK TIME: 10 minutes
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
¼ Asian pear, coarsely chopped
⅔ cup soy sauce, preferably Kikkoman
⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cooking sake
2 ½ tbsp corn syrup
4 tsp sesame oil
8-10 garlic cloves (1 whole head), chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
2 lb sliced bulgogi beef
PICO DE GALLO
¼ medium white onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
½ bunch cilantro, finely shredded
1 plum tomato, finely chopped
1 avocado, finely chopped
6 hamburger buns
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 shiso leaves (see tip)
6 slices provolone cheese or 7 oz mozzarella, shredded
12 pieces iceberg lettuce
1. Whirl onion and pear in a food processer until finely chopped. Add soy sauce, sugar, sake, corn syrup, sesame oil, garlic and ginger, and purée. Turn into a large bowl. Add beef and coat. Marinate for at least 1 hour.
2. To prepare pico de gallo, place onion in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain. Stir in cilantro, tomato and avocado. Squeeze in juice from ½ lime. Stir to evenly mix.
3. When beef is ready for cooking, set a large frying pan over high heat. Add half of the beef, turning with a spatula for 5 to 8 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned. Turn onto a large platter. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat this step with remaining beef and cheese.
4. Toast buns. Spread bottom halves with mayo. Cut lettuce to size of buns and place overtop. Cover with meat and shiso leaves. Spread bun tops with pico de gallo. Sandwich. Serve immediately.
Shiso leaves are stocked at most Asian grocers, including Sanko Trading Co. near Trinity Bellwoods Park. If you can’t get your hands on them, fresh mint makes a good substitute. 730 Queen St. W., 416-703-4550.
Chris Jang dreamed up his bulgogi torta on a camping trip, after realizing he’d brought lots of marinated Korean beef but no rice to serve it with. He ran to the corner store, bought a package of Wonder Bread buns, and his signature sandwich was born. At his late-night snack bar on Queen West, which sadly closes October 30, he smothers the loosely packed beef with provolone and pico de gallo. The trinity of Korean, American and Mexican flavours tastes a bit like a jacked-up Big Mac, with all the greasy, wet-nap-required goodness of the original and none of the post-Mac-attack shame.