Kitchen Olympics: Go for the gold with this easy Korean-themed dish

Fran Sun / Photo

Fran Sun

Have you noticed a bit of a theme in the last few columns? With the exception of Steve’s last one, there’s been a real breakfast vibe around the Rutland Bites office (please note, this is a metaphorical office, unless you count Steve and I grabbing coffee at Speakeasy). I want to change things up this week, so I thought I’d reveal my latest secret-weapon dinner.

I love to cook, I really do, and I love to cook elaborate meals for my family. However, when I’ve been racing around behind a toddler whose superpower is finding the most dangerous object in his immediate vicinity and trying to put it in his mouth, by the time dinner comes around, I’m wiped.

One such evening, I was trying to decide what to make with the pound of ground beef I had in the fridge that needed to be used. I did not have the energy to lovingly craft meatballs when I knew they would only be tossed to the dog or smushed into aforementioned toddler’s clothing. I did not want to slice up onions for spaghetti bolognaise. Burgers were completely out of the question (for now…watch this space!). In desperation, I googled “ground beef recipes.” One of the top results was for a “Korean” ground beef and rice bowl, which sounded perfect! I say “Korean” because I suspected there were some notes of inauthenticity to this dish, and upon consultation with a Korean friend, I was right. My friend said that the beef would not be ground, but that the flavor profile was close enough, so the descriptor stays.

I had all the ingredients on hand because they’re things we cook with a lot. Something like sesame oil might not be in your pantry, but I’d urge you to pick some up, because it really gives this meal a toastiness you might miss out on without it.

The first time I made this for my family, it was so easy I was convinced it was going to be terrible. Lo and behold, it was actually really delicious, and with a few tweaks, it got even better the next couple of times I made it. Okay: several times. I’ve made it a lot.

Make as much rice as you want. I make a cup and a half dry each time, enough for a hungry husband and myself, with some leftovers. The baby doesn’t care much for rice. Yet!

You can dress this meal up with just about any additions you want. For extra protein and deliciousness, I’ve been frying an egg and draping it over the top, and I add broccoli because I love broccoli, but you could add any green you like. I bet broccolini would be excellent, or even asparagus or brussels sprouts. The original recipe author suggests scallions, which I’m sure would be great, but I try to only buy what I’m sure I’ll use, and those tend to go bad pretty fast. I also added lime juice because I feel like it just gave a tangy note that helped cut through the brown sugar sweetness.

Korean ground beef & rice bowls

(adapted from

  • 1 pound ground beef (90 percent suggested, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Pepper
  • Sesame seeds
  • ½ bunch broccoli (or other chosen green)
  • 1 cup cooked white rice per person
  • 1 egg per person (optional)

In a large frying pan or skillet, cook ground beef and garlic, breaking up chunks as much as possible. Keep stirring often to make sure it’s being cooked evenly.

Whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ground ginger, red pepper flakes and lime juice in a small bowl. Make sure the brown sugar is fully incorporated.

Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in a pot of boiling salted water for 5-6 minutes and strain through a colander (or use your microwave, whatever method you prefer). Fry eggs in a pan to your preference of cooking, I suggest sunny-side up with a runny yolk.

When the beef is fully browned, pour the sauce mixture over and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with pepper (the soy sauce should provide adequate salt). Cook for another 2 minutes. Assemble bowls. Rice first, then ground beef, broccoli, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and finally the egg if you choose to include it. A touch of sriracha or, better, gochujang, can add some heat if desired. Enjoy!

Fran Sun

Fran is a new stay at home mom who moved to Rutland from Australia in 2015.

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