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Posted by on Aug 1, 2013 in Korean Food, Recipes | 0 comments

Quick Recipe: Cinnamon Basil Bulgogi

Quick Recipe: Cinnamon Basil Bulgogi

Cinnamon basil, aka Vietnamese basil, is popular in soups, salads and stir-fried dishes in that country. I decided I decided to try the herb in an intra-Asian fusion version of 불고기 bulgogi, because the savory-sweet sauteed beef dish is a form of stir fry.

Last week, I received a small bundle of it in my community-supported agriculture package. The leaves are green on top and purple underneath growing on purple stalks. Although it looks like Italian basil, this variety has a fragrant, sweet aroma that bears a not-so-subtle hint of cinnamon. I smelled it on my fingers as I picked the leaves off the stems.

It’s no coincidence. The reddish-green herb contains cinnamate, the same chemical that gives cinnamon its flavor and smell.

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Adding cinnamon basil to this bulgogi just before serving made a spicy, minty, savory, sweet intra-Asian fusion dish. This creation got a good response on Instagram. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

The found that the basil-cinnamon combo complements bulgogi well. The spicy mintiness of this basil adds invigorating complexity to the pear-forward sweetness of traditional bulgogi sauce. And if you’re using a more soy sauce-like prepared sauce, cinnamon basil helps to tone down the saltiness.

For this preparation, I used 1 pound of thinly sliced strips of steak — I purchased bestec de diezmillo (boneless chuck blade steak) at my corner grocer — and 1 cup of cinnamon basil leaves. After the bulgogi sauce–marinaded steak was fully cooked, I turned off the heat and stirred in the cinnamon basil to make sure it wasn’t overcooked.

I served it on top of steamed brown rice, so it was more like a 불고기 덮밥 bulgogi deopbap.

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