Wednesday, June 29, 2005

HK Market - Tustin

There are days where I don't want to eat out, nor do I want to make a fuss making a meal that requires a lot of cutting, marinating, and worst of all...clean-up.

What are one's options for such an occasion?

For most people, the answer is probably Hamburger Helper or Kraft Easy Mac. For me, it's grilling up pre-marinated galbi or bulgogi from my local Korean grocer, and eating it with some rice and pre-packaged veggies.

And that's exactly what I did yesterday as I am fortunate enough to have a Korean grocery store called HK Market, conveniently located on my route home.

Formerly a Ralphs (or was it Vons?) this sparkling new store also houses a food court with a Korean, Japanese and Chinese food vendor. The store itself is a full-service supermarket with a bakery, and even a made-to-order sushi counter. But my favorite thing about Korean grocers like HK is the packaged banchan and tubs of pre-marinated meats, ready for grilling.

Their banchan (Korean side dishes) are sold in sealed plastic containers. HK has a wide selection. Among the rainbow of choices; pickled Japanese cucumbers, seasoned spinach, green seaweed tossed with sesame oil, creamy potato salad, and the item I picked up last night; marinated bean sprouts accented with green onions and red bell peppers ($1.99/pound).

If I were so inclined, I imagine I could pick up a few of these, arrange it over a bowl of rice and make a quick bibimbap for about a dozen people!

For tonight, the bean sprout banchan I bought was my side dish. The main course was to be bulgogi, marinated sliced rib-eye.

The bulgogi, selling for $2.99/pound, I found to be a bargain. Think of it, how much would rib-eye cost at Ralphs, for example? Twice as much, right? Granted, there is a difference between steak and bulgogi. In any case, HK also offers tender, marinated galbi (beef short ribs) for $3.49/pound, which is also quite reasonable.

Once I got home, I fired up my grill and tossed a slice of bulgogi on the grate. But I immediately realized the folly of that decision. Since the bulgogi is sliced paper-thin, the meat slipped into the space between the grates and disappeared into the fire.

No. This won't do.

What I needed was a grill grate with a criss-cross, or lattice pattern, which I didn't have. Ah, but I do have a cast iron skillet.

Frying the bulgogi on the skillet was easy enough, but I had to be careful of not crowding the pan. Pan crowding would have given me steamed bulgogi, which was not what I was after. And every once in while I had to scrape of the excess juices that leeched out from the meat before it burned.

All in all, I probably put out more work than if I were to make Easy Mac, but I blame that on my lack of equipment, not on the bulgogi. Plus I hate Easy Mac.

The bulgogi, on the other hand, turned out delicious and satisfying. It had the intense flavors of garlic, sesame oil, soy and sweetness that you'd expect from a top-end Korean BBQ joint. With the crisp, refreshing bean sprout banchan and hot steamed rice, it made for a spectacular meal.

Who needs Hamburger Helper anyway?

H K Market
(714) 731-6801
14551 Red Hill Ave
Tustin, CA 92780


At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elmo - Aren't these places great? We have an excellent Korean Market here in SD (Zion) and lot's of marinated stuff, and a wall of Panchan. Though I usually make my own Kalbi & Bulgogi's still nice for those days when you have a major craving....

At 1:37 AM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

Anyone have a good Kalbi marinade recipe?

At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Dog - Try the following base recipe:

2-3lbs Short Robs
2/3c Soy sauce - do not use kikkoman
1 c Water
1/2c Sugar
2 Tb grated, pureed or minced garlic
2 Tb grated, pureed or minced onion
2 Tb pureed ripe papaya or asian pear - I;ve heard of kiwi being used but have never tried it yet.
1/2 tsp pepper
1 large stalk green onion chopped
1 Tb sesame oil (optional)

For added flavor you can add gochujang(korean hot pepper paste) if you like it a bit spicy, or 2tb of "booze"(i.e. Jack Daniels)

Garnish with sesame seed if you like.

Have fun! I think I'll do a batch for the 4th!

At 2:28 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Thanks Kirk! I've been meaning to ask Chowhound's Home Cooking board on the real recipe. I've tried to do a marinade myself in the past and used did not work to make the meat tender, just turned the outside into mush and the inside tough and chewy. I gotta try your recipe and use the pear.

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elmo - Let me know how it turns out!

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Christine D. said...

yeah it used to be a Ralph's. Oddly enough, we used to go to ralphs a lot and now we hardly go to HK. nice place though!

At 4:31 PM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...


Just curious as to why ther recipe states "NO Kikoman" when it comes to the soy sauce.

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diamond - Kikkoman has a very distinctive and salty taste that IMHO detracts from the overall flavor! Back home it's marinate with Aloha Shoyu (much like Yamasa), and use Kikkoman for sashimi, sushi, and as a flavor enhancer, so in all my recipes I always make sure to note to not use Kikkoman. I do have a bottle of Kikkoman, actually a large bottle, but I use it as extra flavoring, not in marinades and stuff. If you want to use Kikkoman go for it! BTW I made a batch of Kalbi over the 4th and it came out well!

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommend getting a 6 pack of HITE beer while you're at HK. It goes rather well with the ribs. Nice clean taste, reminds me of San Miguel/Red Stripe w/o the slight bitterness.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Korean beer eh? Will have to check it out.

At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

becareful using kiwi as a tenderizer 1 kiwi will tenderize 10lbs of kbbq in about a day.

my friend's mom is korean :-)

I saw her marinated 10lbs of kbbq with 3 kiwi - 30 min and boy was the meat goooood

At 1:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went to the HK market the other day. Bought 3 lbs of the rib-eye and 2lbs of the Bulgogi. Cooked the Bulgogi on a grill pan. Top notch. And then the rib-eye was thrown on the BBQ outside tonight....Let me tell you I will be making another trip back to buy more meat!!!
Also the marinated bean sprouts are excellent.
Thanks Elmo!

At 9:49 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks for the tip. Will have to try this recipe and use a tenderizer properly. I used kiwi last time and left the meat to marinate in the fridge over night. The next morning the outer layer was slimy but when i grilled, the interior was tough.


Glad you enjoyed! It's actually a pretty good bargain isn't it? The seaweed salad is pretty good too.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of any other Korean Grocery Stores in Orange County ? I have not been able to find a site that has listings. Wanted to see if there was one my my way home to South Bay.

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant to say aside from the mentioned HK market in Tustin.

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having family over for dinner tonight and making BulGogi from a recipe from my friend's Korean mother. She couldn't give me amounts as she doesn't measure, but the marinade was a korean pear, mashed into pulp (I used my thai mortar and pestle), a grated ginger root, soy sauce, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. I hope it comes out as good as hers was. She gave me some pre-marinated meat a couple weeks ago which I just broiled in the oven and put into lettuce leaves with the homemeade kimchis she gave me along with my store bought, the bean paste she gave me, garlic I broiled in little foil cups like they do at the restaurant and fermented soy beans, and finally some shredded green onions. It was so good... For tonight we purchased all kinds of banchan to go along with everything...

At 5:37 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

HI Everyone!

Thanks for commenting. There are lots of Korean stores in Garden Grove, although I've never been to them.

By the way, HK Market has changed names to Freshia.

Anon, isn't Korean bulgogi great? I'm addicted.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Jim Slaughter said...

Elmo, They sell a really neat terra cotta hibachi type bbq at H Mart in the Diamond Jamboree mall. It is perfect for both galbi and bulgogi. It's $35 or so but really the best BBQ for this type of cooking because the coals are about 1/2 inch from the meat. It sears up beautifully in about a minute!


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