Kimchi Bulgogi Panini

Kimchi Bulgogi Sandwich |

I hate to generalize. But I will do it anyway. When Koreans cook, size matters. This is especially true when it comes to marinating meats – always 10+ lbs. If a Korean cook doesn’t follow this general rule of thumb, he/she is relentlessly ridiculed by fellow Korean cooks. They’ll say you have a “small hand.” Nope, it doesn’t mean that. 😉 It just suggests that you are not generous; you think too small. Pretty tough, huh? Ok. It may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. It may just be my family, but I don’t think so.

Having grown up in this environment, I marinate waaaaay more meat than I really should for my humble family of two. But when your family’s philosophy on everything food is “go big or go home,” there is no other way to do it. And besides, leftovers mean easy meals for a good part of the week.

With the leftover bulgogi (and sautéed kimchi) from my last batch, I made one of my husband’s favorite dishes: Kimchi Bulgogi Panini. As with almost all recipes here, it’s easy to make. It’s also a very quick preparation, because I usually make this with leftovers.

You can add cheese if you’d like. You can use a milder cheddar or provolone, but I made my husband’s with some goat’s milk gouda. Because of the abundance of flavor that comes from kimchi and bulgogi, I prefer a milder cheese for this sandwich. If you don’t have any cheese, just skip it. I make mine dairy-free, and I don’t miss a thing. Additionally, I use fluffy Kaiser rolls for this recipe. They are so good when pressed with a panini press (or a makeshift one that I used). The outside of the roll creates a flaky crunchy shell, while the inside remains soft. It’s unbelievably delicious.

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Kimchi Bulgoi Sandwich/Panini Recipe
Serves 3-4 people

For Bulgogi
1 lb tenderloin or rib eye
1/4 cup tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
1 TB sesame oil
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 large onion, sliced thinly
1/4 Asian pear, grated (totally optional)
2-3 TB agave nectar or honey
1 TB mirin
1/4 tsp black pepper

For Sautéed Kimchi
1 cup napa kimchi, sliced thinly
1 tsp gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)*
1-2 tsp brown sugar or agave nectar
canola oil for cooking

3-4 Kaiser Rolls
3-4 slices of mild cheese
baby spinach or arugula
mayonnaise (optional)

  1. Stir together tamari, sesame oil, minced garlic, agave nectar (or honey), mirin, and pepper.
  2. Place thinly-sliced beef, sliced onions, and grated pear (if using) into a large mixing bowl or a large Ziploc bag for easy cleanup. Add prepared marinade from step 1 to the beef. Mix well. You can use your hands to massage the meat to ensure that the marinade is absorbed by the meat. Cover tightly. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. It can be marinated overnight.
  3. Heat a pan or a skillet on medium-high heat. Add canola oil to coat the pan/skillet. Remove the beef from the marinade and sauté until nicely browned. Don’t overcrowd the pan/skillet. Overcrowding will result in lowering of the temperature of the cooking surface; this will result in boiling or steaming of the meat. On moderately-high heat, the meat should cook very quickly – within minutes. Remove from pan. Tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  4. Add a drizzle of oil to the same pan with the bulgogi bits still stuck to the pan. Lower the heat to medium. Add the sliced kimchi. Sauté until the kimchi starts to look translucent. Add brown sugar or agave nectar and gochujang. Stir well until the gochujang is well mixed into the kimchi. Remove from heat.
  5. Bulgogi Kimchi |

  6. Heat a cast iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed skillet) AND a smaller heavy pan on medium heat.* While the pans are heating, cut the kaiser rolls in half. Spread mayo on each side of the roll. Divide the bulgogi and sautéed kimchi among the rolls, placing kimchi on top of bulgogi. If using cheese, place a slice on top of the kimchi. On top of the cheese (or kimchi), place a small handful of spinach or arugula. Close up the sandwich. Brush the top of the sandwich with a little bit of oil or butter.
  7. Transfer the sandwiches to the heated iron skillet. Place the smaller pan on top of the sandwich. BE REALLY CAREFUL AS THE PAN ON TOP WILL BE HOT. I know. Common sense. But you can’t be too careful. Weigh the smaller pan if necessary. Let the sandwich brown for about 3-5 minutes, until the bread creates a golden brown crust.
  8. Panini Press

  9. Carefully remove the pan on top. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Cook’s Note*:

If you have a panini press, obviously, you should use the panini press. I’m using a makeshift one, because I don’t own one. If you will be using a makeshift “panini press,” make sure the bottom of the smaller pan is clean. You will be using the bottom of the pan to press the sandwich.

Make sure to brush on some oil (or butter) on the outside of the bread and/or the pan to prevent sticking, especially if you are using stainless steel pans.

If you are using cooked leftovers, you can heat the bulgogi and the kimchi together. Just add some oil to the pan and stir until heated through.

If you don’t have gochujang, just skip it. It will be good regardless.

I have this recipe categorized under both “Cheese & Dairy” and “Dairy-Free.” Don’t write me about it please. It’s because you can make it either dairy-free or with cheese.

Love, Gomo


19. April 2013 by gomo
Categories: Beef, Cheese & Dairy, Dairy-Free, Kimchi, Korean Food, Main Dish, Sandwiches | Tags: , | 33 comments

Comments (33)

  1. Awesome killer Panini Gomo!!

    Well I understand your culture I guess. I like to marinate double too. ^.^

    • Thanks Helene! It’s a culture where the relationships and interactions are so interwoven with food. It’s like that in many cultures I guess. I’m not complaining. More the merrier! Hope you and your husband are well! 😀

  2. This looks amazing!!! My kids love paninis and I make it for lunch often, but until now I never ever thought of Asian style Panini!!!! :O Shocking. This looks so good. I’ve been craving for Korean food as one of our favorite restaurants closed down. 🙁 Happy Weekend!

    • Thanks Nami! I’m so partial to Asian flavors. I try to make everything with an Asian flair at least once. 😀 It’s a bummer that one of your favorite restaurants closed down. It happened to us here with our go-to casual restaurant. We are still searching for a replacement. Have a lovely weekend!

  3. I love your make-do panini press. 🙂 I don’t have one either, so – what a great idea! Talk about great – what a fantastic sandwich! Full of flavor and certainly not a “small hand”. I’d give anything to be able to have this for lunch right now!

    • Thank you MJ! It’s always nice to hear that I have a “big hand.” 😀 I would love to get a panini press, but space constraints are keeping me from taking the plunge. Now, if I had your lovely new kitchen, I would be all over it! But the impromptu panini press got the job done. It’s one of our favorite sandwiches. 🙂

  4. Lol that is funny. I have never heard that saying before. My family’s philosophy has been, “make just enough so there won’t be anything left over.” Maybe it was just me since I had a habit of wasting so much food. Maybe it stems from an inner greed? I always take/make more than needed. You should see me at buffets! I grab like 50 plates (exaggerated) and eat off one or two. I just want to get a bite of everything, but there usually isn’t any room left since I get full quickly. I know, shame on me, right?! But I’ve gotten better as I get older, about wasting food.

    The paninis look great. What a creative alternative for a panini press. I love cheesiness. I’d prefer mine with globs of cheese!

    • I wish I can have mine with globs of melty cheese! I’m lactose intolerant… AND a total cheese fanatic. This is a problem.

      I’m surprised you haven’t heard that saying. Koreans are so into food. At parties (or jaanchi), there’s so much food that the “legs of the tables bend.” Have you heard that one before? 😀 We don’t waste anything tho. My family is made up of hearty (albeit gangly) eaters! Hope you are doing well Miss Kim!

    • I use an old George Foreman grill as a panni press. Just apply pressure. Love useing something I thought was useless.

  5. I never would have guessed that’s a kaiser roll! Looks amazing! I haven’t had kimchi yet (I know, shocking–so many foods to try, so little time!) but this is really enticing me. Must try!

    • Other large fluffy rolls with a soft center will work too. The flaky crust that forms is unbelievably good. You have to try kimchi! I will warn you tho. You will need to try it a few times to appreciate the taste. 🙂 Thanks for coming by. Hope you’re having a relaxing weekend Carrie!

  6. I love your panini press…very creative! I don’t own one so this fantastic idea! You know that I would love that panini, I can see myself making it very soon…looks extremely tempting and I already know it’s very delicious!
    I wish you great Sunday and week ahead!

    • Thanks Sandra! I would love to get a panini press, but space constraints wouldn’t allow it. I’m not too big on sandwiches, but I can eat this for days. I’m totally in love with the flaky crust that forms. It’s not hard; it’s like a delicate crust that just gives when you bite into it. And the rest of the bread is still soft. I think you’ll enjoy it. Are you prepared for the week ahead? 😀 I hope you have a lovely weekend!

  7. So glad I came across your blog. I’m in love with Korean food!
    I’m not sure if I’m missing this every time I read it over but, when do you add the onions and pears? When you cook the beef? Or in the marinade?

    • Hi Nicole~ No, it’s not you; it’s me. 😀 In my über overextended, frazzled stated, I omitted them. Thanks for pointing that out! You would put them in when you marinate. I fixed the recipe. I’m so glad to hear that you love Korean food! I so love the fact that it’s becoming more prevalent. And access to Korean food is getting easier. Thank you so much for coming by the site and for your comment!

  8. Wow, this is definitely my kind of panini. My family would LOOOOOVE this!

  9. I often prepare way too much food too! Guess I must have a big hand! 😉 Terrific sandwich – I love the flavors in this. And a fun post – thanks so much.

    • I knew I felt a culinary kinship with you! That would mean you have a big hand. 😀 I never tire of this sandwich. Only problem is that I eat too much of it. Thank you for your kind words John!

  10. Love this! I tried making kimchi pizza, but this will work out sooo much better and I happen to have some leftover bulgogi and kimchi right now. Genius!

    • Thank you Laurie! We always have leftovers here, because I make too much of everything. But they do come in handy, right? 🙂 Let me know how the panini turns out. It’s definitely one of our favorites. Hope you’re having a great week!

  11. What a great idea of using up leftover Bulgogi! I also love your version of panini press. 😀 Very creative.

    • Thanks Sue! It was super delicious. You have to get creative when you only have a small NYC kitchen to work with. 😀 Hope you are doing well!

  12. I HAVE a panini press. But can’t say I’ve ever stuffed kimchi into one of my paninis. Man, I have been missing out. This looks beyond wonderful. 😉

    • Lucky you! It’s on my to-buy list along with a slow cooker as soon as I get a bigger kitchen. 😀 I must say tho, this MacGyver contraption works pretty well! And the panini were delicious. Thank you for coming by the site Carolyn!

  13. My mom always boasts that she has “big hands” when cooking and it’s a point of pride with her. 🙂 Granted, I have to agree since she cooked so much food for my daughter’s 2nd birthday party that the 30 guests ate until they were full, took leftovers home and it still looked like the food hadn’t even been touched because THERE WAS SO MUCH LEFT OVER. Luckily, the meat freezes well and we were more than happy to eat the other items for the next week. And this is not an isolated incidence. Your panini recipe looks fantastic! I will have to try it soon.

    • Finally, someone who confirms that it’s not only in my family! 😀 Yes, it is a point of pride; and it’s a pretty big insult to suggest someone has small hands. When I was little, I always knew when someone is said to have “small hands,” their party was going to blow. I would love to be at your family’s party. Sounds like your mom knows how to throw a mean Korean party! I hope you give the panini a try. It’s super yummy! Hope you and your family is having a great weekend Jen!

  14. Sper delish recipes, just stumbled across your blog! I am saving practically everyone to my Evernote “recipes to try soon!” File 🙂

    My inlaws are the same way about making 4 kilos of meat at once – if you make 1 kilo (which is alot, 2.2 lbs) you are making “comida coda” (or selfish food, food for just you, food you dont want to share) . Interesting to hear how other cultures do the same thing:)

    • Thanks Tricia! That is so funny. I had no idea, there was a similar term in other cultures! 😀 I guess it’s because family, friends, and food are very important in those cultures. Life revolves around those things, and sharing of food plays a big part. I just marinated about 10lb of bulgogi. I will probably share a lot of it & have a lot of leftovers again! Happy Saturday!

  15. I have been admiring this recipe since you first posted it… Hopefully today is the day I can make this at home! I’m craving meat today and this looks like it’ll hit the spot, yum!

    • Thanks May! I think this is probably my husband’s favorite sandwich; and he likes A LOT of sandwiches. 😀 I hope you try it out. Let me know how it turns out! Hope you are well!

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