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Summer Heats Up With Korean Barbecueby Julie Goldstein, Bull and Buddha

The heat of June compels the masses outside to bask in the sun. It’s the time of year when people flock to their backyards and grills, where families and friends join together to enjoy the official commencement of the summer season. They gather around and watch the vegetables and meats sizzle as their stomachs rumble in anticipation of the flavors they are about to savor.

A growing trend and exciting alternative to traditional American grilling is Korean barbecue. One of the most well-known Korean barbeque dishes is bulgogi. Literally meaning “fire meat”—which describes the cooking method of the beef, pork, or chicken—bulgogi is an addictive dish. Thinly sliced meats are marinated in garlic, chili paste, and soy sauce and laid upon the smoking hot grills or stones for a quick cook until slightly crispy (and challenging to refrain from snacking on). Another popular dish is galbi—marinated thin-cut grilled short ribs.

The allure of eating Korean barbeque is that it is served family style: The meats are grilled by the diners and served with rice and banchan (small plates of pickled vegetables and kimchi—spicy fermented cabbage) for all to share. Not only is there a sense of community when eating this type of food, there is also a ritualistic feeling as well, as the diners use all five senses when eating Korean barbecue. The smell of the meat; the sound of it hissing on the grill; the sight of the meat browning; the texture; and, of course, the taste. All make Korean barbecue an interactive way to eat.

Korea’s culinary culture is directly related to its environment, and its geography and climate have everything to do with how the people eat. Korean cuisine is heavily based on foods that naturally grow in each region. Over the centuries when China dominated Eastern Asia, it lent a bounty of foods to Korea, including many that are regarded as staples of Korean cuisine such as rice, cabbage, fowl, cows, and pigs.

Like Korea, local grain, produce and meat are preferred options in the Hudson Valley. A favorite butcher shop for many in the area is Fleisher’s in Kingston. A family business since 1901, Fleisher’s has evolved into a shop that cuts locally pastured beef, poultry, lamb, and pork (a slight change since the original, kosher butcher shop was in Brooklyn). Fleisher’s vows to treat animals ethically and with respect; the quality of their meat shines through, due to the methods the farmers use to raise the animals and the short distance from farm to butcher.

Korean barbecue is fun to make at home on a grill or even a cast-iron skillet, but it is even more enjoyable to eat with others. Bull and Buddha is happy to announce its Korean BBQ at the Communal Table, served every Monday at 6 and 8 PM.

Korean Short Ribs

4 lb beef short ribs, cut thin 
(this may be labeled “flanken” at the store)
For the marinade:
2 kiwis, peeled and pureed

½ cup soy sauce

6 cloves of garlic, minced (2 tbsp.)

1 inch piece of ginger, grated (1 tbsp.)

2 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

2 tbsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. red chili powder

½ tsp. black pepper

20 fl. oz. lemon-lime soda 
(about 2 small cans)

Mix all marinade ingredients together and pour over the meat. Marinate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Grill over high heat for 5 minutes on each side. Serve with steamed rice, or in lettuce cups.

Bull and Buddha Restaurant fuses an urban interior with exotic design elements of the East nestled in Poughkeepsie’s revitalized downtown. Served under the watchful eye of a hand-carved two-ton Buddha, the Asian-themed menu reflects the bounty and diversity of the Hudson Valley: an inspired dining experience in a chic yet casual setting.

Bull and Buddha is located at 319 Main St., Poughkeepsie,, 845.337.4848. Open Mo-Th 11:30 AM-10 PM, Fr/Sa 11:30 AM-1 AM, Sunday Brunch 11 AM-8 PM. Closed 3-5 PM daily except Su.

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