I have a hard time running straight ahead at a goal--any goal. I'd be a terrible running back (a football reference! Let's do this!). Sure, I can see down the path to where I'm supposed to be heading, but along the way I always seem to glimpse a shiny distraction I can't resist. I could change my major to architecture (true fact, I changed it five times); I knooow I'm growing my hair out, but I could chop it in a pixie like hers; I could go to grad school for creative writing; I know this is supposed to be pizza, but what if it was also kind of lamb vindaloo? I've never been able to resist a twist.
With that knowledge in mind, and the realization that I'll probably never be a great team sports player in my heart (it's okay guys, I've made my peace with it), these crazy, trashed-up nachos should come as no surprise. If ever there was a perfect blank culinary canvas to experiment on, it's got to be nachos. Invented in a Mexican border town for Americans by a Mexican maître d' in a hurry, they are about as far from authentic anything as it's possible to be. Broiled, melty grated cheese or luscious cheese sauce poured on top? Make them with crisp, restaurant-style chips or grocery store scoops? Toppings, toppings, and more toppings? Yes, yes, yes! It's all good, my friends. Nachos are endlessly forgiving.
When it comes to watching The Big Game, I've always unapologetically been in it for the snacks (and the commercials). IT IS KNOWN. For me, the Super Bowl is a time to flex a little culinary muscle and try out bold new snack ideas on a captive audience desperate for cheesy, spicy, crunchy goodies. Something happened while I was dreaming of nachos this time, though. I was distracted from my straight-ahead path by a bottle of gochujang chili paste, with visions of Korean-Mexican fusion (a combination that at this point has become a classic) doing end-zone dances in my head. Behold, the delicious twist of my dreams! Spicy, sweet bulgogi-style beef sits atop a layer of crunchy chips and a warm blanket of molten queso, with a sprinkling of freshly quick-pickled vegetables on top for extra crunch, color and zest. With a little prep work, this can be made and served the same day, which means there's plenty of time to get this crazy fusion fantasy into your Super Bowl spread!
3/4 lb beef round tip steak
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely minced scallion whites (save the green tops for later)
1 tablespoon gochujang chili paste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into ribbons with peeler
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 cups freshly grated mild cheddar cheese (don't use the bagged stuff, it won't melt as smoothly)
1 teaspoon gochujang
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
white sesame seeds
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion tops
Thinly slice steak and place in an airtight bag or container with soy sauce, scallions, ginger, brown sugar, gochujang, sesame oil and garlic. Toss until thoroughly combined and coated, refrigerate for three hours. Place carrots and cucumbers in separate small bowls, add one tablespoon of lime juice to each, toss to coat then cover and refrigerate.
To make cheese sauce, melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan, sprinkle with flour. Cook, stirring frequently with a whisk, until the mixture has turned a light tan in color. Immediately whisk in milk and continue to stir often. When the sauce becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (think gravy), whisk in grated cheese a little at a time and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat, whisk in gochujang.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat, add marinated steak to pan in two batches, stir frying quickly just until done. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and set aside to cool slightly. To assemble nachos, spread out tortilla chips on a platter, then ladle on that cheesy, spicy goodness (reheat cheesesauce to a pourable consistency while whisking, if necessary). Spread out steak slices evenly on top of this. Remove quick-pickled carrots and cucumbers from fridge, pour off any excess liquid, then arrange on top of nachos. Finally, sprinkle with scallions and fresh cilantro. Serve and enjoy!