In this menu
Just the smell of bulgogi (Korean barbecued beef) on the grill transports me to my childhood summers, when my parents would entertain friends on balmy evenings. My mom, who is of German descent, learned years ago to make bulgogi from my Korean aunties and has since perfected the flavors in her version. It's now one of her signature dishes, and she always serves it alongside a shallow bowl of glossy noodles and an array of refreshing marinated-vegetable salads.
Because we generally ate these dishes on special occasions, I always assumed that they were complicated. But using my dad's slicing and grilling techniques and my mom's tried-and-true seasonings, these recipes are easy enough for anyone to make. Most can be prepared in advance; just add a pot of steaming rice and purchased kim chee (spicy pickled cabbage), and you have the makings for a fuss-free summer supper that will have your guests asking for seconds.
Up to 3 days ahead
Shop for all ingredients, plus melon for dessert. Supplement the recipes here with purchased kim chee; roasted hot pepper paste; toasted seasoned keem (seaweed; also sold as nori) to wrap around bites of rice; and sesame candy or cookies for dessert. Look for these ingredients at a Korean or Asian market.
Up to 4 hours ahead
Marinate the meat and make the three salads (kale, bean sprout, and cucumber). Arrange melon chunks on a platter; cover and chill.
Up to 2 hours ahead
Prepare ingredients for the noodles (through step 4; chill meat).
About 30 minutes ahead
Cook rice to accompany meal. Set keem or nori on a plate and spoon kim chee and roasted hot pepper paste into small serving bowls; arrange on table along with salads.
Shortly before serving
Complete noodles (steps 5 and 6). Grill beef; transfer to a platter. Spoon rice into a bowl; bring to the table along with noodles and beef.