The Paradoxical Bulgogi Pie
Happy Pi Day!
Did you know that…..
Pi is the most popular mathematical constant, and Pie is the most popular dessert (in America).
Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day (3.14.1879). He spent much of his life thinking about Pi.
Pie is cuter than Pi. *check out #1 under “the brownie you never knew”
When you take the sun and divide its circumference by its diameter, you get a pie in the sky!
Pie Poll Results
Thanks to everyone who voted in the Pie Poll for Pie Day 2010! Bulgogi won with 44% of the votes. Bulgogi Pie it shall be!
What is Bulgogi?
Bulgogi is a popular Korean barbeque dish that is made from very finely sliced, marinated rib-eye steak. The marinade can include a number of ingredients, depending on the preference of the cook. Soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, scallions and garlic are the universal base ingredients, and yellow onion, sesame seeds, vinegar, mushrooms, ginger, and black pepper are common additional ingredients. Bulgogi is traditionally grilled (but commonly pan-fried), and served with steamed white rice, or with leaf vegetables in a “ssam”.
The Paradoxical Bulgogi Pie
Bulgogi is never served with wheat based products, and it is impossible to make the perfect, buttery, flaky pie crust without using wheat flour. Furthermore, pie does not exist in Korea! If you ask for it, you will be offered a pre-packaged “Choco Pie”. And you know how I feel about store-bought pie.
Pie in the Sky
Is this Bulgogi Pie just a pie in the sky? Or can it be made into a delicious reality? I recently watched my first Jamaican film, “The Harder They Come”, which featured a song that mentions pies up in the sky! This all has absolutely nothing to do with Bulgogi Pie. But this song is uplifting, and perfect for a lovely Pi day. So check it out:
As a Korean-American pie lover, I knew it was my call of duty to solve this paradox. Here was my plan:
2. Koreanify my favorite pie crust recipe by incorporating rice flour and toasted sesame seeds.
3. Create a creamy Bulgogi roux recipe, using rice flour and Bulgogi pan drippings.
4. Perfect all three components and combine!
Pie Crust 101
Making the perfect pie crust is truly an art. And since we don’t have the time to go into extensive detail (we only have until 1:59 pm), please note the following:
The tenderness of your crust is dependent on the protein content in your flour and the amount you handle your dough. The less protein in the flour, and the less you handle your dough, the more tender your crust will be. All-purpose wheat flour has the ideal protein content for a tender pie crust (~10%), and also contains the proteins (gliadin and glutenin) that form gluten. Gluten is a substance formed/activated by moisture and handling; it is necessary to create elasticity in the dough and rigidity in the final baked product. Although a small amount of gluten is essential to creating a workable dough, too much can easily create a tough crust. Therefore, the dough should be handled just enough to properly incorporate the ingredients. Rice flour has a ~6% protein content, and does not contain the proteins to form gluten. Therefore, I incorporated toasted, crusted sesame seeds into my original Koreanified pie crust recipe to compensate for the loss of protein.
The flakiness of your crust is mostly dependent on how you handle your fat. The key is to chill your fat, and to work it into the flour as quickly as possible. The reason for this is that you want small chunks of fat dispersed throughout the dough without melting before baking. These pieces of fat expand during baking, and are what separate the dough into layers/flakes. The most common sources of fat are shortening, butter, and lard. Shortening has the highest melting point, and is therefore the easiest to work with, and creates the most structurally stable end products. However, butter and lard offer much better flavor, and if handled properly, can most certainly create structurally sound crusts. I have yet to explore the specific differences between butter and lard pie crusts, but I plan to do this in the very near future!
There are three main components in a pie crust: flour, fat, and moisture. The rule of thumb is roughly three parts flour, two parts fat, and one part moisture/liquid. The source of moisture is most commonly ice-cold water, but can also be milk, cream, sour cream, eggs, or vinegar.
Let’s Cook AND Bake: Bulgogi Pie with a Toasted Sesame Crust
Part I: HHC’s Mama’s Bulgogi
- 1 lb of thinly sliced rib-eye steak (purchased at a Korean market)
- 1/3 cup of soy sauce
- ½ cup shittake mushrooms, diced into ~½ inch cubes
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, sliced
- 2 green onions
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1/2 tsp of ginger, finely minced
1. Cut the pre-sliced rib-eye into ~1 inch squares.
2. Combine all of the ingredients but the beef, onions, and mushrooms in a large bowl. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the beef, onions, and mushrooms. Using your hands, massage the marinade into the beef. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (and up to 3 hours).
3. Place the marinated beef (and excess marinade) in a ~2-3 inch deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until lightly browned (~5 minutes). You can also use this recipe to make traditional Bulgogi (not to be eaten in a pie). Just follow the steps, only, don’t cut the rib-eye at the beginning, and use high heat when cooking the bulgogi (to get seared edges).
4. Remove the Bulgogi from the skillet and place in a bowl. Save the pan drippings for the Bulgogi Roux.
Part II: Bulgogi Roux
- Bulgogi pan drippings
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 2 tbsp butter
1. Heat the Bulgogi pan drippings over low heat. Add the butter and whisk until fully melted.
2. Increase the heat to medium, and add the rice flour. Gently whisk until the roux is thick, creamy, and bubbly (~3 min). You can tell when the flour in the roux is fully cooked when you smell a pleasant, nutty aroma.
3. Re-add the lightly cooked Bulgogi to the skillet, and evenly coat it with the Bulgogi Roux.
Part III: Toasted Sesame Crust
- 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup rice flour
- 1 cup butter, cut into ~½ inch cubes, and then chilled in the freezer for ~10 minutes (or 1 cup of chilled lard if you have it)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 tbsp of toasted, crushed sesame seeds, and additional for topping
- 1 egg, whisked (for egg wash)
- 1-4 tbsp of ice-cold water
1. Sift together the flours, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in the toasted sesame seeds.
2. Add the chilled butter to the mixture in the large bowl. Using your hands, quickly (but gently) work the butter into the chunks are about the size of small peas.
3. Gently knead until just incorporated. Squeeze the dough with your hand to test if it holds to itself. If it does not, add 1 tbs of ice water (at a time) until the dough sticks.
4. Divide the dough into two equal disks. Wrap them each in plastic and chill for ~30 minutes.
Part IV: Putting it all together
1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
2. Lightly dust a clean work surface with rice flour. Using a floured rolling-pin, roll out one disk of dough until ~1 foot in diameter.
3. Fold the rolled dough over the rolling-pin, and lift the rolling-pin by the handles over the pan. Unfold the dough, and gently press it into the surface of the pan. Make sure not to stretch the dough.
4. Add the Bulgogi filling. Repeat step #3 for the remaining dough, and then place over the Bulgogi filled pie.
5. Press the edges of the bottom and top crust together. Crimp the edges using your fingertips.
6. Cut slits into the top of the pie for steam to escape.
7. Brush the top crust with the egg wash, and then sprinkle with additional toasted sesame seeds.
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Allow it to cool for 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!!!
And there you have it! Yummy Bulgogi Pie!
NOW GET ON IT! No time to eat this time… I know you haven’t made your pie for Pi Day yet….
But please do have a deliciously pie-filled Pi Day 2010!
Until next time…