Korean Beef Stir Fry


I never jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon. I know that everyone loves putting it on top of and inside everything but I’ve always found it a little too bland flavor-wise and too aggressive heat-wise. I have a bottle in the fridge but I rarely use it. So, I was happy to start seeing articles this year about the “new Sriracha,” the “hottest ingredient,” the “sauce of 2016,” all of them referring to gochujang, which I’ve used and loved for a while now.DSC04861 Gochujang comes from Korea. It’s a condiment made traditionally with fermented soybeans, red chili, glutinous rice, and salt. It’s the stuff they put on bibimbap, if you’ve ever had it. It’s medium to very spicy (depending on the brand), mildly sweet and earthy. It’s the kind of condiment you taste and taste again and every time you discover something else in its flavor profile. There are several brands in the U.S. and you can find it at most grocery stores. I really like the Mother In Law’s Kim Chi brand of of sesame gochujang (in the photo above). But I’ve used other brands and all have been good. DSC05111

While you can use gochujang with pretty much anything, it pairs really well with beef. In this recipe, I make a quick marinade for thinly sliced skirt steak and put it in the fridge up to 8 hours, or leave it for 30 minutes on the countertop. Then I stir fry it quickly in a hot pan and it’s done. You can serve it on rice or noodles (in the photo below it lies on top of rice noodles) and add whatever you might have as an accompaniment: sliced carrots or cucumbers, mint leaves, red onion slices, and pretty much anything pickled (in the photo below, I added some pickled yellow beets). It makes a quickly prepared but really satisfying meal.

And if you are one of the many Sriracha fans, I saw a gochujang-flavored Sriracha bottle at the store the other day, though I’ll be sticking to plain gochujang for us.


Korean Beef Stir Fry


1 lb skirt steak, sliced into thin strips against the grain
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Combine gochujang, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, maple syrup, and soy sauce in a small bowl and mix until combined. Place thinly sliced beef in a large resealable plastic bag (or a medium bowl) and pour marinade on top. Using your hands, massage meat to make sure it’s all coated with marinate. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes, or chill up to 8 hours.

Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high until oil is shimmering. Remove half of meat from marinade, letting excess drip back into bag, and cook in a single layer without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Toss meat and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil and remaining meat.

Serve over rice or noodles. Top with any combination of the following: sliced carrots (pickled or not), sliced cucumbers, slices of red onion (pickled or not), mint leaves, and other pickled vegetable.

Lamb Stir-Fry with Pomegranate and Yogurt


I wasn’t especially close to my grandparents. My maternal grandfather died when I was really young and my dad’s parents lived far away so we saw them rarely. The only grandparent I saw fairly often was my maternal grandmother. For as long as I can remember, she lived in a little house behind my aunt’s house. She was a refugee, having lost her home in the war of 74, and a widow. We saw her a few times a year when we would go and visit.


My grandmother looked like a typical old Greek woman from the movies. Always dressed in black (perpetually in mourning for her husband, as old customs required), her hair always covered in a large black headscarf. It was a source of great mystery to me, her hair, when I was little. The couple of times I caught a glimpse of her without the headscarf, I could see a torrent of white hair cascading down her black-clad back. It seemed magical somehow.


I have few memories of the times I spent with her. I remember that my sister and I, influenced by American movies and cartoons we watched on TV, always wanted her to tell us stories and fairytales. When she would tell us that she didn’t know any stories (she was a farmer’s wife who raised nine children in hard, village conditions) we would explain to her that she must, she was a grandmother after all, and all grandmothers know all kinds of fables. Inevitably, she would give in and tell us the same one or two stories she knew, none of which satisfied our hunger for fantastical beings. One of those stories involved a cockroach who convinced a cow to let it ride on its back to cross a muddy field, but then somehow fell in the deep impression that the cow’s hoof left in the mud, at which point the cow, unaware of the cockroach’s fall, started to pee, filling the impression with pee and drowning the unfortunate cockroach to death.

Yeah, she wasn’t kidding when she said that she really didn’t know any fairytales.


One fond memory I have with her involves pomegranates. There was a small pomegranate tree growing in her front yard and when the fruit was ripe, she would pick one and painstakingly peel and deseed it for us. My sister and I loved receiving our small bowls filled with the sweet-tart fuchsia-colored seeds, eating them with a spoon, feeling their juices burst in our mouths, always wary of eating too many lest they make us constipated as the adults always warned us.


Pomegranates always make me think of my grandmother. I didn’t often eat them, however, because I hated the process of picking the tiny seeds from their intricate web of pith. It was only recently that I discovered a much easier way to deseed a pomegranate by whacking it with a wooden spoon. So, when I saw this recipe for a lamb stir-fry with pomegranate and yogurt in Bon Appétit, I bought a pomegranate and tried it. It turned out to be fantastic. The lamb is intensely fragrant with cumin and coriander, while the yogurt and pomegranate add a buoyant and sweet coolness to the dish.



Lamb Stir-Fry with Pomegranate and Yogurt – Adapted from Bon Appétit

Serves 2


1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 pound boneless leg of lamb, thinly sliced against the grain
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ tablespoons olive oil
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon water
zest from half a lemon, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, cut into ½” wedges
½ cup water
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
Fresh oregano and mint leaves (for serving)


In a medium bowl, mix together cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and 1½ Tbsp. oil in a large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat. Cover and let it marinade in the fridge for at least two hours, or up to 24 hours.

Whisk yogurt, lemon zest, and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook lamb (do not overcrowd in pan), tossing occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes per batch; transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Add onion to skillet and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown and soften, about 4 minutes. Add ½ cup water; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and water is almost completely evaporated, about 4 minutes. Return lamb to skillet and toss to combine.

Serve lamb topped with yogurt, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and herbs.