(84) South Korea – Beef Bulgogi

Seoul, South Korea. Source: Cushmanwakefield.com

Welcome to South Korea, our 84th country! You can of course find South Korea on the border of North Korea, The Yellow Sea, and The Sea of Japan. The city of Seoul is the largest of South Korea and the world’s third largest city with a population of 25 million people! Outside of the bustling city you can admire the traditional Hanok architecture in Hanok Village which is situated between two of the large palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. Interestingly, in South Korea you don’t turn a year older until New Year’s Day, and from birth you are a year old. From yummy food to popular music South Korea has left its mark on the United States.

There are a few foods that come to mind when you think of South Korea- kimchi (fermented cabbage and vegetables), bibibaps, and soondae (blood sausage) to name a few. Their cuisine has evolved greatly over time due to political and social events. Rice, vegetables, seafood, and meats make up most meals while sesame oil, gochujang (fermented chili paste), doenjang (fermented bean paste), and soy sauce are common ingredients. Koreans are very into fermented foods which add a unique flavor to any dish. Our dish we are making today, beef bulgogi, will have a side of kimchi.

Beef bulgogi is a marinated, thinly sliced (oops) beef that is often grilled or sautéed served over rice or wrapped up in lettuce. The origins of the meal date back to Goguryeo era, which was 37 B.C. to 668 A.D. It started out as skewered meat known as maekjeok and over time evolved to neobiani which was marinated beef that was grilled and often eaten by the upper class and royalty. By the early 20th century beef was more available in Korea and ultimately became the bulgogi we know today. There is a slightly different interpretation of the dish which is more a beef broth meal. So I actually did neither preparation and sautéed the meat in its marinade- yum! Can you smell that garlic? Recipe can be found here.

After my meat marinated for 24 hours I cooked it as directed via skillet. I decided to let it cook with most of the marinade to make sure it would stay tender. Luckily this meal as another easy one to do during the work week. To achieve the cucumber ribbons I used a veggie peeler.

What a pretty plate! We loved this colorful meal and how each element brought something special to the dish. The meat was very tender and well seasoned. The ginger as always pulls through with a garlic punch. We always find the addition of cucumber refreshing and helps cut the spiciness. This dish was deserving of a solid 8/10.

(52) American Samoa – Sapa Sui

Hey guys welcome to the American Samoa, the southern-most territory of the United States. It can be found hallway between New Zealand and Hawaii and is made up of 5 inhabited, volcanic islands and 2 coral atolls. One of the coral atolls, Rose Atoll, has sunk back into the ocean from the weight of coral and old lava, but was believed to have been covered in rainforests like the other surrounding islands. This country produces the most American football players than anywhere else in the world and makes the tuna canneries employ 80% of the islands natives. It also is home to one of the most remote national parks of the US and is spread over 3 of its islands- Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū. Pictured above is one of these islands beaches.

Ofu Beach. Source: Beachesworld.com


American Samoa cuisine is mostly filled with easily excessable foods found on or surrounding the islands. Such foods include coconut, fruit, seafood, rice, various livestock, and canned corn beef. A staple dish found here known as sapa sui or Samoan chop suey is unlike its American cousin with Asian influence. With that said it did not originate here and brought over from Chinese settlers in the 1840s. At the time there were laws prohibiting interaction with the Chinese settlers, but as time pasted many married native Samoans ultimately bringing us intertwined culture and cuisine.

I used this recipe which at first glance said to use mung beans and of course in western Maine I couldn’t find that so I looked the substitute which is green pigeon peas. I later read that glass noodles could be used and sadly did not have enough on hand for the desired amount. When it comes to mid week cooking I don’t always read my recipes over enough prior to execution day and I later find out things like this.. oh well. It was fairly simple to make and definitely did not need to be seasoned with salt (the amount of soy sauce used was salty enough in my opinion)

It was a nice mix up and was clearly reminiscent of its ancestry with the dominating soy sauce flavor. The fresh ginger also brought a mild warmth to the dish, but it did not wow us like others have. We rated it 6/10 and with more noodles and chicken vs ground meat probably could have scored a higher rating.

Next we head back to Europe and substitute beef for yet another lamb recipe (sorry not sorry)! Let us know if you tried this dish and had a different experience than we did!