Lucy Long culinary tourist in Korea: Loves beef dish PDF   E-mail
Written by By KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Thursday, 10 July 2008

ImageFor most people, Lucy Long acknowledges, Korean beef — or Bulgogi — is an exotic dish.
“But I lived in Korea for 10 years as a child. So that, for me, is comfort food!”
A full-time faculty member in American culture studies and international studies at Bowling Green State University, Long is also a traditional musician with her own band, the Root Cellar String Band, and the person who first coined the phrase “culinary tourism.”
Her personal exposure to Korean cuisine goes well beyond the level of tourist, of course.
“My father was an agricultural economist with the U.S. State Department in Korea, and we lived on a military base and also at a missionary compound” from 1966 to 1974.
The mostly Presbyterian missionaries had lived there for years and all spoke excellent Korean.
“We frequently had Korean cooks and they prepared Korean food for us all the time.”
The only Korean food most Westerners have heard of is kim chee, which roughly translates as “fermented vegetable.” The most common of many varieties of kim chee is a very spicy, winter cabbage that sits fermenting in a pot for three to six months.
But the country’s cuisine is actually quite a bit more sophisticated than that.
“For every meal, everyone has their own bowl and rice” and a clear soup is usually served.  Rather than a big platter of meat being brought to the table, there are many small family-style dishes of different vegetables, dried fish, seaweed, tofu and soy. “It’s very healthy.”

Korean bulgogi meat is sliced paper thin and served with a rich, flavorful dark sauce that includes sesame seeds and sesame oil, brown sugar and soy sauce.
The recipe Long is sharing with Cook’s Corner readers is quite authentic. She describes it as an amalgamation from two cookbooks: Ulsan, Korea Cookbook, published way back in 1967, and Shim Chung-shil. Korean Recipes, published in Seoul in 1984.
Long’s family would return from Korea each year to spend their summers in the U.S. Her parents were Scots-Irish and “the Asheville (N.C.) area is really what I call home.
“I grew up with a strong sense of being Scottish. But I was very aware that party of my family” — dad’s side — “was hillbilly and part was sort of landed gentry. Mom was D.A.R!” and the family’s Piedmont farm had originally been deeded to them by England’s King George.
The mixture of geographic identities helped Long to acclimate to each society in which she found herself.
“I played with both Korean and American kids in Korea. The Americans couldn’t stand the smell of kim chee, but Koreans couldn’t stand the smell of cheese. It was just as foreign to them” and knowing how cheese is made didn’t help! “They didn’t drink milk.”
Long’s own husband and three children are vegetarians, in varying degrees of strictness, so she doesn’t get the chance to make Korean bulgogi too often. “But if we were having people over I would try to do something like this. I would do tofu and use the (bulgogi) sauce.
Last week, while she was performing out of town with the Root Cellar band, they happened to eat at a Korean restaurant.
“The guys in the band tasted the Korean beef at a restaurant in Ann Arbor, and they loved it!”
Asian groceries in bigger cities, including Toledo, will sell bulgogi-style meat already sliced and spiced. “They call it Korean barbecue.”
But Long went to Kroger in Bowling Green “and told them it needed to be paper-thin” and they were very helpful, suggesting a back round cut.
When Long returned to Korea last year to teach a conference workshop on how to interpret food it was her first time back in the country since 1974. She had a chance to revel in being a culinary tourist.
“I went to the Kim Chee Museum, and I ate constantly! The only thing I could not get down was the little tiny octopi.”

Bulgogi (“Fire Meat”) or Korean Barbecue

Marinate overnight in the refrigerator:
1-½ lbs. beef in paper-thin slices and small pieces. (Some stores actually sell “Bulgogi meat” in the deli section. Otherwise, it’s usually the meat from the back, between the ribs. A little bit of marbling is good.)
4 green onions sliced long ways.
4 cloves garlic, minced.
4 t. sesame seeds
4 t. sesame oil
5 T soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients together to form a sauce. Pour it over the beef and mix it thoroughly. Let the meat marinate for at least 1 hour.
The traditional method of cooking is to grill on a special slotted pan over charcoal or an open flame (gas ranges work for this). Otherwise, you can either:
Spread on a baking dish and broil or
Cook quickly in a frying pan with small amount of beef stock for extra “juice.”

* For a vegetarian version, use tofu or tempeh. The sauce is delicious on any kind of meat.
** Sliced mushrooms, onions, or other vegetables can be marinated and cooked along with the meat.

Long to lead workshop on culinary tourism at BG library

Lucy Long will be presenting a public workshop tonight at the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green.
The 7 p.m. program,  titled “Culinary Tourism in Your Own Kitchen,” is free of charge and will last about an hour.
Long, a BGSU faculty member, edited a book titled “Culinary Tourism” and “it turns out I coined the term” which has since gained international usage.
She defines it as “eating out of curiousity.”
“If you think of food as carrying meaning and memories, every food can be a source of tourism — even hamburgers and your mom’s chili.”
Last year, Long helped organize a traveling exhibit on food traditions in northwest Ohio. “Part of that was on Asian food in this area — Korean, Japanese and Chinese restaurants in the area.”
It is now on permanent exhibit at the Wood County Historical Museum

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