Alongside the customary soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger, he might sweeten it with brown sugar, white sugar, honey, soda (some people swear by 7-Up; others prefer Coke), and/or Asian pear juice, which tenderizes the meat. The marinade can be used on beef short ribs, tofu, tempeh, or even vegetables. Once on the grill, the sauce caramelizes and provides an irresistible smoky, savory, sweet flavor.
Korean BBQ Marinade
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh Asian pear juice or puree (optional)*
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 scallions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust quantities, if desired.
Use sauce to marinate beef short ribs (see Korean Barbecued Short-Ribs for details) or slabs of extra firm tofu (drained and pressed) or tempeh. Place the protein in a shallow dish or zip-top bag and coat evenly with marinade. Marinate for at least 2 hours and up to a day, turning at least once.
*Note: Asian pear juice helps to tenderize meat and also gives the marinade a sweeter flavor. Making 1/4 cup of juice requires about 1/4 to 1/2 of an Asian pear. Use a juicer or blender or finely grate the pear and squeeze to extract the juice.
(Images: Emily Ho)