As a parting gift after a visit with my brother, Andrew, he gave me a generous baggie full of gochugaru – Korean red chili pepper flakes, non-woke friends. This is the kind of epicurean relationship we have. We go grocery shopping for fun and have a shared google doc with our future restaurant’s menu mapped out. He orders me a bottle of limited edition Red Boat fish sauce, I bring him back a bottle of Douro Valley wine from Portugal. It’s a give and take relationship that revolves mostly around food – and love and admiration too!
The gochugaru sat relatively untouched in my pantry for a while until one day the inspiration struck to make bo ssam for some friends coming over for dinner. Bo ssam, a popular Korean dish, is a slow roasted caramelized pork shoulder. After consulting Andrew on adapting the recipe using a brisket, I abandoned the bo ssam idea and landed on a Korean BBQ brisket recipe that I could make in a crockpot. My plan was to serve it bo ssam style with lettuce cups, scallion garlic sauce, spicy mayo, rice and kimchi of course. To say it was a hit is an understatement. Tender, spicy brisket wrapped in crisp butter lettuce and topped with a zingy, flavorful sauce is the most perfect bite of food. It’s fun to eat and great for entertaining.
You can find gochugaru on Amazon or at your local Asian supermarket (H-mart for life!). I recommend shopping in-store for it though. Roam the aisles and you’ll find tons of unique and delicious ingredients that will inspire you to expand your repertoire and cook new, interesting dishes outside of your comfort zone.
Korean BBQ Brisket
From Melissa Clark
- 4 to 5 pound beef brisket
- 1 tablespoon gochugaru
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 3 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 cup lager-style beer
- 1/4 cup gochujang (Korean chile paste) or Sriracha
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Rub the beef with the gochugaru flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of the oil, let it heat up for a few seconds, and then add the brisket and sear on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed. Remove brisket from the pot.
Add more oil to your pot if needed and add the onion and sauté until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 1 minute longer. Add the beer, gochujang, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Scrape the mixture into your crockpot.
Cook on high for 7 to 9 hours or low for 10 to 12 hours. Cool brisket in the fridge until it’s fully cold. Slice it while it’s cold and reheat in the oven in all its saucy goodness.