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Kid Friendly Korean Beef and Coconut Rice

This recipe is a twist on the traditional Korean dish, bulgogi, using ground beef instead of thin slices of sirloin. While bulgogi marinates overnight to develop enhanced flavors and tenderness, I use ground beef paired with the same umami ingredients. This combination of sweet beef and coconut rice is a winner because it is quick, cheap and I don't need a recipe to follow.

It took a few tries before my kids agreed this was a delicious meal. I was not about to give up on them since I knew in my chef's heart this dinner was going to be their new favorite.

Jim and I love Asian flavors so I keep my pantry stocked with the ingredients in this list. All I need is a pound of ground beef or turkey to whip this up in less than 30 minutes. Now that my kids have agreed to also like this meal, it makes a bi-weekly return to our menu chalkboard.

Ingredients: Korean Beef

1 tablespoon olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch evoo)

1 pound ground beef or turkey

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon fresh minced ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Sambal (optional)

Sesame oil (optional)

Sliced green onions and basil for garnish (optional)

Treat meat

If you have a few extra minutes, treat the ground beef so that it retains moisture and doesn't taste dried out. Sprinkle meat with two tablespoons of water and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Break this up with your fingers gently, don't overwork the meat. Set aside.

Start the Coconut Rice

Ingredients: Coconut Rice

2 tablespoons olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch evoo)

1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

1 15 ounce can of coconut milk (I buy regular full fat Goya Coconut Milk)

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Since the beef browns in just a few minutes, I like to start the coconut rice first. If you are in a rush, dump all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, turn heat down to low, cover and set the timer for 15 minutes.

If you have a few extra minutes, heat olive oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat first. Add in rice and toast, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until rice begins to turn light brown in spots.

Pour in the coconut milk, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Place a lid on the saucepan and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the rice and serve hot.

Korean Beef (or Turkey)

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink and beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Drain excess fat.

Add brown sugar, soy sauce, and pepper, heat through. If rice is still cooking, turn off heat and cover until ready to serve.

Freezer Option

Freeze cooled meat mixture in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally.

How I divide and conquer

I scoop out a cup of the ground beef after I add the brown sugar, and soy sauce and let this cool in a bowl for the kids.

Then I spice up the remaining beef with a tablespoon of chili garlic paste, also called sambal. The kids do not like the flavor of sesame oil, so I wait until their portion is taken out before I add a teaspoon to the meat.

Serve over hot rice and garnish with green onions and basil.

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