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Marinade for Kalbi at Soot Bull Jeep?

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The last time I was at Soot Bull Jeep, I willed myself to ask them what was in there marinade. With the assumption that it was a tightly held secret, my strategy was to compliment and inquire in tiny little steps. Loose version of the dialogue:

"Excuse me. The kalbi is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! What is in the marinade?"
<Smile from the waitress.>
"Is there honey in it?"
"Yes."
"Is there garlic in it?"
"Yes."
"Soy Sauce?"
"Yes."
"Green onions?"
"Yes."
"... Anyway... It's fantastic. I'm in heaven. I wish I could make something as great as this."
<Another smile and then she walked away.>

I gave up. I realized my complimentary dialogue had quickly turned into an inquisition - very awkward. I wish I knew some Korean so I could have developed a rapport with her. Maybe then she would have easily given up the marinade recipe that I covet.

To the point, 'hounders, anyone have an idea of why the marinade is so darn good? Is it the honey? Is it the garlic? Is it magic? If anyone out there managed to get a recipe from these lovely waitresses please share your strategy! I would love to hear your story! Hope to hear from you soon!

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  1. Most Asian marinades (all traditional cooking actually) use a combination of flavors (hot, sour, sweet, bitter, and salty) that "harmonize" with each other. It is the "harmony" of flavors that make it so good.

    The marinade used in this dish probably also included ginger, black pepper, maybe some asian pear or kiwi, and sesame oil.

    7 Replies
    1. re: hannaone

      maybe some coke too? my mom throws in a can of coke into kalbi marinades and yes grated kiwi, didn't know she wasn't the only one who did that

      1. re: bitsubeats

        Kiwi and sweet apple are often subbed when Asian pear isn't available. When you do sub these, you need to know that the flavor will change somewhat.
        Haven't heard the coke version though.
        The wonders of fusion.

        1. re: hannaone

          According to Korean friends (who don't really measure), you would need sesame oil, perhaps sesame seeds, and sake or rice wine vinegar for tenderizing the meat.

          1. re: diva360

            I thought using kiwi, Asian pear or coke was the tenderizer. No?

            1. re: mochi mochi

              That would be true--I just mentioned what my Korean home cooking friend had said. She said the marinade was similar to that for bibimbop, and that sake was her "secret" ingredient. I've only made the latter per her advice, and it was really, really good. But kiwi or pear would also act as tenderizers as they are acids.

              1. re: diva360

                A lot of recipes call for both the rice wine and the pear/kiwi. There are a lot of variations, but they all stay within the "harmony" theme.

                1. re: diva360

                  Thanks, good to know. I love bibimbop.