So here’s what happens when you live with someone who is usually indifferent to food. You’ll go for weeks racking your brain for what to make for dinner or what to post on your blog, procrastinating at work by making lists and going down Pinterest rabbit holes, feeling generally uninspired … and then one day, as you’re drifting off to sleep, he’ll pipe up casually with something like, “Hey … what about bulgogi nachos?” And then you won’t go to bed for another 20 minutes (while he falls asleep right after) and you’ll spend about 10 seconds of that thinking why didn’t I think of that! and the other 19 minutes and 50 seconds contemplating whether making nachos at 1 AM on a Wednesday is a normal and worthy endeavor.
And then, as soon as you can (though maybe not at 1 AM), you make them and post about them. Because dude, bulgogi nachos. With kimchi, and plenty of melted cheese, and a pile of spicy greens on top? Perfection. Of course, Korean Mexican fusion is nothing new, and it receives a healthy share of ire as the poster child (it seems) of what people perceive as unnecessary fusion cuisines, but I really feel like it works here. The well-salted tortilla chips are a fantastic balance to the savory-sweet beef bulgogi, and the tang from the kimchi helps liven up those otherwise heavy flavors. And anyone who’s been here in Cambridge knows that there’s nothing closer to heaven than a healthy pile of melted mozzarella on tender Asian-marinated beef.
The best part is that I’m not the only one feeling the need to put Asian food on nachos this week (which is how you know you’re onto something!) because Steph at I Am a Food Blog put a California roll all on tortilla chips and it looks so, so good. Can I just start a diet where I eat only things on nachos? I feel nothing but good things and low cholesterol can come of this.
And lastly, some happy news — we’re heading to Hawaii tomorrow! B2 had his first case settle (!) this week, which means it’s literally the best time ever for us to set off on our first real vacation since starting work last fall. We’re planning on staving off fall for two more weeks, eating lots, and lots, and lots of good food (if you’re on Oahu, you might wanna stock up on poke now … before we get there and empty out all the Foodlands), figuring out how to wed, and, most importantly, spending some long-overdue quality time with family. I sense that I might need a Korean cooking refresher from his mama. Unless putting things on nachos is an age-old Korean tradition I don’t know about.
Hope you all have some plans to soak up the last of the summer!
I opted for ground beef marinated in bulgogi marinade for these nachos, rather than the traditional thinly-sliced beef, because I felt it would be more scoopable. Feel free to use traditional bulgogi meat.
- for the bulgogi:
- 1 small pear, crushed or blended
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp minced ginger
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or sweetener of your choice
- a pinch of ground black pepper
- 1 green onion, chopped finely
- 1/2 lb ground beef (or traditional beef bulgogi meat)
- for the rest:
- 1 small onion, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- tortilla chips, to your preference (I used about 4-5 cups' worth)
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or more, to your preference)
- 1/2 cup kimchi, diced (or more, to your preference)
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, sliced
- 1 green onion, diced
- a few sprigs of cilantro (optional)
- A few hours ahead or the night before, marinate the bulgogi meat. Puree pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and black pepper in a food processor or blender, then mix with the ground beef and green onion. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes before making the nachos, and ideally overnight.
- When you're ready to make the nachos, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions briefly, then add the ground beef and panfry together until the beef is cooked and the onions are translucent.
- Layer the bottom of an 8x8-inch glass dish or a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with a layer of chips. Spoon about half of the beef and onions over the chips, then half the mozzarella. Layer another few handfuls of chips, then the remaining beef, onions, and mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted, about 4-5 minutes.
- Top with diced kimchi, sliced jalapeno, green onion, and cilantro. Serve immediately.